Singapore, Apr 26 (EFE).- A Singaporean national of Indian origin, Tangaraju Suppiah, was hanged Wednesday for conspiring to traffic 1 kilogram of marijuana, the first execution in the city-state this year.
Tangaraju, 46, was executed by hanging, the method used by Singapore, around 6 am at the Changi Prison, Kokila Annamalai, the spokesperson for Transformative Justice Collective, a local nonprofit that advocates for the abolition of death penalty, confirmed to EFE.
Tangaraju’s case has attracted attention not only for being a crime of attempted trafficking of marijuana, whose medicinal use is being legalized in an increasing number of countries, but also due to alleged irregularities in the process, denounced by his family members and the nonprofit.
“My uncle is a very good man. He didn’t have education or money, but he worked very hard to look after us. To hang him is to kill an innocent man,” Tangaraju’s niece said in a video posted on Twitter on Tuesday night.
Tangaraju or “Appu” – as his family calls him – is a 46-year-old Tamil origin man who was sentenced to death in 2017 for being “complicit in a conspiracy to traffic” 1kg of marijuana from Malaysia to Singapore four years earlier.
The convict and his lawyers have insisted that he never saw or touched the contraband and was implicated by others over exchanges on phone whose content was not even presented in the trial.
A marijuana consumer since his adolescence, Appu grew up in a humble family and spent his youth getting in and out of juvenile homes and prisons.
He was implicated in the case after being arrested for not showing up for a drug test while being out on bail.
Despite the “weak” evidence, according to his family members, the death sentence first handed to him in 2017 was upheld by another court in late 2022 after the last possible appeal.
Amnesty International slammed the execution, which it said showed “the staggering failure of Singapore’s stubborn embrace of the death penalty.”
“The many flaws in the case, from lack of access to legal counsel and of interpretation from the point of arrest, to the lack of disclosure of key evidence from the prosecution, as well as the continued reliance on the mandatory death penalty renders this execution arbitrary under international human rights law,” it added.
In another statement, Human Rights Watch Asia Director Phil Robertson called the hanging “outrageous and unacceptable.”
“Singapore’s continued use of the death penalty for drug possession is a human rights outrage that makes much of the world recoil, and wonder whether the image of modern, civilized Singapore is just a mirage,” he said.
Singapore has some of the world’s most draconian laws against drug use and trafficking, with smuggling of 500 grams or above of marijuana being punishable by death.
Singapore authorities insist that the death penalty is an “essential component” of their judicial system and helps check drug consumption – an argument strongly contested by rights groups – and last year executed a record 11 people on drug trafficking charges. EFE