Despite a pending appeal in Malaysia and concerns about the fairness of the trial, Singapore went ahead with the hanging of Prabagaran who had consistently maintained his innocence.
S Prabagaran, a Malaysian who was convicted of drug trafficking in Singapore, was executed at 6am today, after his 11th-hour bid for a stay of execution was dismissed. He was 29.
His family was allowed to see him for the last time yesterday.
Family members collected his body at 10am at Changi prison.
A vigil led by Prabagaran’s mother, aunt and niece was held last night outside the prison complex.
“The family stayed up all night. They keep going back and forth from their hotel to the prison,” said Kirsten Han, co-founder of anti-death penalty group We Believe in Second Chances, The Malaysian Insight reported.
“She’s very, very upset. It’s very difficult for her,” said Han, referring to Prabagaran’s mother.
“She said: ‘My son is no more, my son is no more’.”
Prabagaran was sentenced to hang for attempting to smuggle 22.24g of heroin into Singapore in 2012.
The Malaysian, who was working in a petrol station, was arrested at the Woodlands checkpoint for possession of the drugs, which was found in a black bundle in the centre arm-rest console of the car he was driving.
He claimed that he borrowed the car from a friend to enter Singapore that day because he was worried that his motorcycle would be repossessed.
He has consistently maintained his innocence.
Yesterday, the Singapore Court of Appeal dismissed his application for a stay of execution, saying he had already received due process and the application was an “abuse of process”.
The United Nations urged Singapore to halt the execution, saying it should not go ahead while an appeal was pending in Malaysia.
According to media reports, Prabagaran’s lawyers had filed a case in Malaysia where the Court of Appeal was considering an application to refer Singapore to the International Court of Justice over concerns about the trial.
Prior to that, Prabagaran’s application for leave to start judicial review proceedings was dismissed by Malaysia’s High Court, which said it could not interfere in the case.
Amnesty International had raised concerns about the fairness of Prabagaran’s trial. This included the alleged failure of the authorities “to follow up leads and call on key witnesses that would corroborate his version of events”.
The key argument the defence made was Prabagaran had borrowed the vehicle.
“The Singaporean authorities must immediately halt his execution before another person suffers this inhumane and irreversible punishment,” James Gomez, Amnesty International’s Director for South-east Asia and the Pacific said yesterday.
Singapore, however, paid no heed to the various calls to halt the execution.
Early this year, Prabagaran’s mother, V Eswary, 54, had made an impassioned plea to the Malaysian government to save her son.
Unfortunately, that came to nought, too.
Singapore has meted out the death sentence 10 times – including for seven cases of drug trafficking – after it lifted a moratorium on executions in 2014.
Last November, it hanged a Malaysian and a Nigerian for drug trafficking after their last-minute appeals were rejected.
According to Amnesty International, 38 people are awaiting execution on Singapore’s death row.