Singapore hangs Indian-origin man over smuggling of 1 kg of cannabis

A 46-year-old Indian-origin man, convicted of a conspiracy to smuggle one kilogram of cannabis, was hanged in Singapore’s Changi Prison Complex on Wednesday, according to authorities.

The hanging took place amid widespread calls by international organisations, including the United Nations Human Rights Office, asking the Singaporean government to “urgently reconsider” the execution.

“Singaporean Tangaraju Suppiah, 46, had his capital sentence carried out today at Changi Prison Complex,” a spokesperson for the Singapore Prisons Service told AFP.

In 2017, Tangaraju was convicted of “abetting by engaging in a conspiracy to traffic” 1,017.9 grams of cannabis, which is double the minimum volume needed for a death sentence in Singapore. He was given a death sentence in 2018, a decision which was also upheld by the Court of Appeal.

On Monday, British billionaire Richard Branson, a member of the Geneva-based Global Commission on Drug Policy, wrote in his blog that Tangaraju was “not anywhere near” the drugs when he was being arrested. He asserted that an innocent man might be killed.

The convict’s family has appealed for clemency and pushed for a retrial.

On Tuesday, Singapore’s home affairs ministry said, “Tangaraju’s guilt had been proven beyond a reasonable doubt”, according to AFP.

Two mobile phone numbers, which the prosecutors alleged belonged to him, were used to coordinate the delivery of the narcotics, according to the ministry.

Singapore has some of the world’s strictest anti-drug laws. The city-state government asserts that the death penalty acts as an effective deterrent against drug trafficking.

However, the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCR) disputed the Singaporean government’s argument.

“The death penalty is still being used in a small number of countries, largely because of the myth that it deters crime,” the OHCHR said in a statement on Tuesday.

Tangaraju’s hanging was the first in six months and 12th overall since Singapore resumed executions in March 2022 after a gap of over two years.

Singapore’s neighbouring country, Thailand, has already abolished capital punishment for drug smuggling and pressure has been mounting on Singapore to follow suit.

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