Last Updated: April 26, 2023, 12:26 IST
Singapore on Wednesday executed Tangaraju Suppiah, who was accused of coordinating a cannabis delivery. (Credits: Twitter)
Tangaraju Suppiah was not found with the drugs or during the delivery, but the prosecutors said he had been responsible for coordinating it
Tangaraju Suppiah was executed on Wednesday by the Singapore authorities after he was convicted of conspiracy to smuggle one kilogram of cannabis.
He was hanged on Wednesday morning and his family was given the death certificate despite pleas for clemency from his family, activists and the United Nations.
Suppiah was executed in defiance of a plea by the United Nations Human Rights Office for Singapore to “urgently reconsider” and calls by British tycoon Richard Branson to halt it.
Tangaraju Suppiah’s family gathered at Changi Prison near the city’s airport to receive his body soon after the hanging.
#Singapore: We urge the Government not to proceed with the imminent hanging of Tangaraju Suppiah. Imposing the death penalty for drug offences is incompatible with intl norms & standards. pic.twitter.com/DPfiahHcqo— UN Human Rights (@UNHumanRights) April 25, 2023
Singapore has some of the world’s toughest anti-narcotics laws and insists the death penalty remains an effective deterrent against trafficking.
Last year the Southeast Asian country hanged 11 people, all on drugs charges – including an intellectually impaired man convicted of trafficking three tablespoons of heroin.
Tangaraju Suppiah’s Case History
Tangaraju Suppiah was convicted in 2017 of “abetting by engaging in a conspiracy to traffic” 1,017.9 grams of cannabis, twice the minimum volume required for a death sentence in Singapore.
In 2018, he was sentenced to death with the Court of Appeal later upholding the decision, but rights groups have claimed there were several problems with the case.
Tangaraju was not found with the drugs or during the delivery. But prosecutors said he had been responsible for coordinating it, and they traced two phone numbers used by a deliveryman back to him.
If a criminal justice system cannot safeguard and protect those at risk of execution despite credible claims of innocence, the system is broken beyond repair. This is why Tangaraju Suppiah (a man on death row in Singapore) doesn’t deserve to die: https://t.co/zMQ4owW4os pic.twitter.com/bUWYXhTUEc— Richard Branson (@richardbranson) April 24, 2023
He later appealed against his conviction and sentence, but it was dismissed in August 2019, with the court agreeing that Tangaraju had conspired to traffic in cannabis.
Tangaraju filed a criminal motion in November 2022 for permission to apply to review the concluded appeal. The court dismissed this as well in February 2023.
Despite his family’s countless appeals for mercy, a Singapore court dismissed an application by Tangaraju’s family to have his case reviewed, a day before the death row convict was set to be hanged.
The judge agreed in the last appeal that he had been responsible for coordinating the delivery, which made him ineligible for a more lenient sentence.
Flaws in the Case
Several international bodies pointed to flaws in the case and urged Singapore authorities that Tangaraju Suppiah should be given a fair trial.
Human Rights Watch deputy Asia director Phil Robertson said the evidence “was far from clear cut – since he never actually touched the marijuana in question, was questioned by police without a lawyer, and denied access to a Tamil interpreter when he asked for one.”
He added the hanging “raises serious concerns that Singapore is launching a renewed spree to empty its death row in a misguided effort of deterrence.”
Amnesty International Deputy Regional Director Ming Yu Hah said there were “many flaws” in the case and that the hanging showed “the staggering failure of Singapore’s stubborn embrace of the death penalty.”
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