Nagaenthran’s mother files legal challenge as last-ditch effort to save him

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Nagaenthran Dharmalingam’s mother has filed a legal challenge in a last-ditch effort to set aside his conviction and death sentence, which will be heard on the eve of his execution in Singapore.

Miera Zulyana

The 34-year-old Malaysian was slated to be executed on Wednesday (April 27) after the Singapore Court of Appeal upheld his death sentence last month.

Zaid Malek, chief coordinator for Lawyers for Liberty (LFL), said in a statement that Panchalai Supermaniam filed the legal challenge on Monday (April 25) but she would not be represented by a lawyer.

“The legal challenge filed in the Singapore Court of Appeal has been fixed for hearing at 2.30pm on Tuesday, April 26, 2022. This is the very eve of execution,” he said.

He said Panchalai had to file the case in court herself with the help of friends and activists and without the assistance of a legal firm as she was unable to secure the service of a lawyer in the republic to file the challenge.

“It has become very difficult to secure the services of Singaporean lawyers to take such legal challenges because lawyers have been consistently penalised and heavily fined by the AG’s Chambers and judiciary for doing so, resulting in Panchalai having to file the case herself in the court registry,” he said.

The basis of the legal challenge is that Judge Sundaresh Menon who presided over and dismissed Nagaenthran’s appeals was also the AG who prosecuted Nagaenthiran and secured his conviction.

“This is a blatant denial of fair trial and unheard of in the Commonwealth judicial systems.

“At the hearing on Tuesday at 2.30pm, Panchalai would be unrepresented by lawyers; this speaks volumes about the unjust judicial process in Singapore,” he added.

Hoping that Panchalai and Nagaenthran would succeed in their bid, Zaid urged the Singapore Government and its President Halimah Yacob to heed international human rights norms and immediately halt the scheduled hanging of the mentally disabled Malaysian.

Nagaenthran was initially slated to be executed on Nov 10, 2021 but the eleventh-hour hearing of the appeal was adjourned on Nov 9, 2021 after Nagaenthran tested positive for Covid-19.

The Court of Appeal in the republic had previously dismissed Nagaenthran’s appeal against the death sentence in 2019 for importing 42.72g of heroin in 2009.

He was caught in April 2009 while entering Singapore from Malaysia via the Woodlands Checkpoint with a bundle of heroin, strapped to his thigh.

His legal team had previously said that he suffered from intellectual disability with a lower-than average IQ.

However, the Court of Appeal in its judgment dated March 29 dismissed his appeal on the grounds that there was lack of evidence showing the deterioration of his mental state.

The court also said that his lawyers had “abused the court process”.

The case had received attention from anti-death sentence campaigners and rights groups in both countries who urged for the execution to be stopped, citing an international law violation by executing a person with a mental disability. – The Star