Sharmila Dharmalingam is praying for a miracle. His brother Nagendran Dharmalgim has been sentenced to death in Singapore’s Changi Jail. Sharmila tells the BBC: “When I am alone, I think of my brother and cry a lot. But we must keep our courage and keep praying. Anything can happen. ‘
Nagendran, 21, was arrested in Malaysia in 2009 while smuggling heroin from Malaysia to Singapore. On Tuesday, he was confirmed to have contracted covid and his sentence was suspended.
Medical experts considered Nagendran’s mental state to be weak and measured his IQ level at 69. This level of IQ is considered a sign of mental retardation. However, Malaysian citizen Nagendran has been sentenced to death. The Singapore government has said it knows what it is doing and that it has a clear understanding of what is good and what is bad.
Singapore has one of the strictest drug laws in the world and there is no major controversy over the death penalty at the local level. But even in the case of Nagendra, the people here are shocked.
Anger in people
So far, more than 60,000 people have signed a petition appealing to the President of Singapore to pardon Nagendra.
The petitioners have argued that hanging of the mentally weak is prohibited under international law.
One of the signatories to the petition told the BBC: “It is heartbreaking that a mentally weak person is being hanged for a non-violent crime.”
The campaign is also gaining support on social media where people are expressing outrage and sympathy with Nagendran.
“I don’t know if they know the seriousness of my 33-year-old brother’s condition,” she said.
“She called us several times and told me that she was going to be hanged and that she had to be ready for it,” she said.
“And how often do I feel like coming home and eating home-cooked food?” I don’t know how much he understands these things. ‘
If Nagendran is hanged, it will be the first death sentence since 2019.
Debate over mental state:
Nagendran was arrested in 2009 while entering Singapore from Malaysia. 43 grams of heroin was tied to his thigh.
Singaporean law provides for the death penalty if arrested with more than 15 grams of heroin.
Earlier in the day, Nagendran had said that he had been forced to cross the border with heroin.
However, he later said he committed the crime when he needed the money.
The court sentenced Nagendran to death for presenting false arguments in his defense.
In 2015, Nagendran appealed for a pardon based on his mental health. He said he was mentally weak.
In 2017, Dr. K Ung, a psychiatrist, told Nagendran that he had a moderate level of mental disability and was addicted to alcohol.
If Dr. Kane’s argument had been accepted, Nagendran’s case could have been greatly affected.
Later, in a question and answer session of the court, the doctor reversed his argument and said that he felt that he was affected by Nagendran Borderline Intellectual Functioning.
While three other psychologists told the court that Nagendran did not have any mental illness.
One psychologist argued that her borderline intelligence may have influenced her decision to commit the crime.
After a lengthy debate, the court ruled that he was not mentally weak. Last year, the president rejected his mercy petition.
International human rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have criticized the court’s decision.
Performance in Malaysia:
People are also angry over this issue in Malaysia where there have been demonstrations in support of Nagendran.
Malaysian Prime Minister Islam Yakub Sabri has personally appealed to Singapore’s Prime Minister to pardon Nagendran.
It has been 10 years since Nagendran was sentenced to death. Sharmila now received a letter from a Singapore prison stating that she would be executed on November 10.
Sharmila says, ‘I couldn’t accept it. I cried a lot. I cried all day. I was unable to tell my mother because she was not well. I couldn’t look her in the eye. ‘
The family was given two weeks to come to Singapore to visit Nagendran. At this time, they had to make all the travel arrangements under the rules of Kovid, from booking a hotel.
According to Kristin Han, an activist who started an online fundraising campaign for the family, she had to create family-related documents, find a place to live, and cover her own expenses.
About 12,600 was raised for Sharmila and her family. She says, “Without this money, her family would not be able to visit Nagendran.”
The family arrived in Singapore last week, but Sharmila did not leave. She says, ‘Someone has to stay to take care of the family That was it, so I stayed. ‘
She said she could not see her brother before he was hanged. “I pray every day for a miracle,” she said. Somehow my brother survived. ‘