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Singapore: Death penalty for 1 kg of Cannabis

Fri May 13, 2005 (Reuters).

Tragic scenes took place around the execution of the Tamilen, Shanmugam Murugesu , in Singapore. Because he wanted to bring a kilogram of ’marijuana’ over the border of Malaysia, the 38 year-old was executed today in Singapore. A final request for pardon was rejected earlier.

He was hanged on Friday 0600 (2200 GMT) in Changi prison, after his teenaged sons failed in a last-ditch bid to stop the execution, his lawyer said.

Shanmugam was arrested at the Malaysian border in August 2003 with 1.03 kg (2.27 lb) of cannabis and lost an appeal against a conviction for drug trafficking. His clemency bid was rejected by Singapore’s President S.R. Nathan last month.

The case has stoked controversy and put the spotlight on the high execution rate in Singapore, which enforces some of the world’s toughest drug laws. Anyone aged 18 or over convicted of carrying more than 500 grams (17.6 ounces) of cannabis faces mandatory execution by hanging. In the past weeks, local groups had campaigned for Shanmugam, organising performances, forums and vigils in a rare display of activism for Singapore.

His twin 14-year-old sons, Gopalan and Krishnan Murugesu, had handed out hundreds of flyers in shopping districts to seek public support to stop Friday’s execution.

In its 2004 report, rights group Amnesty International said about 400 people had been hanged in Singapore since 1991, mostly for drug trafficking, giving the wealthy city-state of 4.2 million people possibly the highest execution rate in the world relative to its population. Amnesty said only six people sentenced to death in Singapore had been spared execution.

Singapore has defended its use of the death penalty and maintained that capital punishment has deterred major drug syndicates from establishing themselves in Singapore.

Comments of human rights and drug activist Mrs. Andria Efthimiou-Mordaunt from John Mordaunt Trust / Eurodrug:

"Information to hand now indicates this was a (another) botched hanging... it broke his jaw and he was left to die slowly, aware and painfully, of corotid artery strangulation.

(it is assumed that the sudden breaking of the neck and severance of the spinal chord induces a sudden and deep state of unawareness, however few executioners are sympathetic to or have the required training for placement of the noose, knot and slack, or to the length of the drop - weight dependent - required to accomplish in most cases the required mortal and expeditious effect)

I am finding myself personally distressed with this news. One cannot sanction by silence this cruel and unusual treatment of anyone. It is after all a punishment inflicted under the United Nations sanction of the Single Convention on Narcotics, in complete contravention of [UN] Human Rights

BTW it was friday the thirteenth. British standards for a hangman’s ’hempen’ rope was 13 feet, turns in the knot 13, and that the knot be bound with fine chamois so as not to damage the skin".


Update Friday 30 October 2009 02:36, published Wednesday 18 May 2005 18:11