Indian-origin man hanged in Singapore over cannabis trafficking

The Singaporean was detained in 2014 for drug consumption and failure to report for a drug test.

Singapore: Singapore on Wednesday executed a 46-year-old Indian-origin drug trafficker, a day after his 11th-hour appeal was rejected by a court here.

Tangaraju Suppiah was convicted in October 2018 by a High Court judge of a capital charge of abetting an accomplice by conspiring to traffic cannabis. This was by delivering about 1kg of cannabis to himself, an offence under the Misuse of Drugs Act.

The Singaporean was detained in 2014 for drug consumption and failure to report for a drug test.

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A statement by the Singapore Prison Service on Wednesday said that Tangaraju “had his capital sentence carried out today at Changi Prison Complex”, Channel News Asia reported.

A court in Singapore dismissed an application by Tangaraju on Tuesday to have his case reviewed and for his execution to be stayed, according to the report.

In a 15-page judgment, Justice Chong explained that Tangaraju had failed to show a legitimate basis for the court to review his case.

Tangaraju’s case had drawn support from British billionaire Richard Branson and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ravina Shamdasani, on Tuesday, urged the Singapore government to “urgently reconsider this (Tangaraju’s) execution and to take steps to fully respect the most fundamental of human rights – the right to life.”

Branson had claimed in a blog post that Tangaraju’s conviction did not meet standards and that “Singapore may be about to kill an innocent man”.

Singapore’s Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said on Tuesday that Branson’s views regarding a Singaporean on death row showed “disrespect” for the country’s judges and criminal justice system.

Tangaraju was sentenced to death after failing to fulfil any of the criteria that would free him from death row.

He later appealed against his conviction and sentence but it was dismissed in August 2019, with the court agreeing that Tangaraju had conspired to traffic in cannabis and that he had used a phone to communicate with his accomplice, Mogan Valo.

Tangaraju filed a criminal motion in November 2022 for permission to apply to review the concluded appeal.

The court dismissed this as well in February 2023.

In his last bid, Tangaraju, who was self-represented, argued that the prosecution had failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he and Mogan had an agreement to traffic the specific quantity of 1017.9g of cannabis.

However, Justice Chong said it was never Tangaraju’s case at trial that the agreement with Mogan was to traffic an amount below the threshold amount for capital punishment or any lesser quantity.

“It thus appears that the applicant is essentially seeking to advance an entirely new argument,” the report quoted Justice Chong as saying.

The Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) said on Saturday that Tangaraju’s petition to President Halimah Yacob for clemency was unsuccessful.

The CNB said that capital punishment is used only for “the most serious crimes”, such as the trafficking of significant quantities of drugs that cause very serious harm, not just to individual drug abusers but also to their families and society at large.

“Capital punishment is part of Singapore’s comprehensive harm prevention strategy which targets both drug demand and supply,” the bureau said.

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