A Malaysian man with learning difficulties convicted of drug trafficking has been executed in Singapore, despite a legal challenge from his mother and pleas from across the world for his life to be spared.
Nagaenthran Dharmalingam had been on death row for over a decade after he was arrested in 2009 for attempting to smuggle 44g (1.5oz) of heroin into Singapore.
It has some of the world’s toughest drugs laws and its government has said its use of the death penalty for drug crimes is made clear at its borders.
The 34-year-old’s lawyers had filed several appeals against his execution saying he had an IQ of 69 and was intellectually disabled.
However, the courts determined he knew what he was doing at the time of his crime, and ruled there was no admissible evidence showing any decline in his mental condition.
His brother, Navin Kumar, 22, confirmed the execution had taken place.
Dharmalingam’s body would be brought back to their home town in Malaysia’s northern state of Perak, the family said, where preparations for his funeral have been made.
His mother had filed a legal challenge asking the Singapore courts to stop the execution but it was turned down, clearing the way for the sentence by hanging.
Following Tuesday’s court hearing, Dharmalingam and his family reached through a gap in a glass screen to grasp each others’ hands as they wept.
His cries of “ma” could be heard around the courtroom.
“We are unspeakably heartbroken at this incredible cruelty,” Amnesty International Malaysia said on Twitter, calling for the fight against the death penalty to continue in his memory.
Anti-death penalty group, Reprieve, said it was a “tragic miscarriage of justice”, adding it could be a “watershed moment” for opposition against the death penalty in Singapore.
Demonstrations had taken place in Singapore against the sentence, with protesters calling for leniency.
Dharmalingam’s case attracted global attention, with a group of United Nations experts and British billionaire Richard Branson joining Malaysia’s prime minister and human rights activists to urge Singapore to commute his sentence.
The Singapore government says the death penalty is a deterrent against drug trafficking and most of its citizens support capital punishment.