Singapore Suspends Execution of Low IQ Malaysian Drug Dealer

Singapore’s High Court has suspended the scheduled execution of a Malaysian drug dealer who reportedly has limited mental capacity.

Nagaenthran Kr. Dharmalingam, a 33-year-old man, is scheduled to be executed by hanging on Wednesday for trying to smuggle less than 43 grams of heroin into Singapore 12 years ago.

But Malaysian authorities, the international community and human rights groups have called on Singaporean officials to suspend Nagaenthran’s execution, arguing that the man has a low IQ.

Singaporean courts ruled that the suspect knew what he was doing. However, Nagaenthran’s defense attorney, M. Ravi, said his client had been a victim of the drug trafficking operation and should be released, stating that capital punishment for a person with a disability violated the country’s constitution.

“He has been gamed. He is a victim of the [drug-trafficking] operation. He needs treatment and help,” Ravi said.

The lawyer wrote on Facebook that while his application was dismissed, Singapore’s high court granted a stay of execution “pending the hearing of the appeal to the Court of Appeal.”

The court is scheduled to hear the appeal today on the grounds that Nagaenthran is not in his right mind. If the stay is lifted, he could be executed as scheduled.

In 2009, narcotics officers discovered that Nagaenthran had a small packet of heroin strapped to his left thigh. The man, who was 21 at the time, was reportedly trying to smuggle nearly 43 grams of heroin into Singapore from Malaysia.

Singaporean authorities sentenced him to death in November 2010 under the nation’s strict anti-drug laws. His defense tried to reduce the sentence to life imprisonment, but the appeal failed.

Death penalty opponents argue that a medical expert had determined that Nagaenthran had an IQ of 69, a level internationally recognized as indicative of an intellectual disability.

But the Singapore government upheld the death sentence, saying the High Court had assessed the psychiatrists’ evidence, including evidence from specialists presented by the defense, and determined that Nagaenthran did not have an intellectual disability.

“Nagaenthran considered the risks, balanced it against the reward he had hoped he would get, and decided to take the risk,” it added.

A petition calling on Singapore’s president for a pardon has gained traction on social media, drawing more than 60,000 signatures.

British business magnate Richard Branson also called on the government to spare Nagaenthran’s life.