Saved By Covid? Malaysian On Death Row in Singapore Contracts Covid, Delaying His Execution

source – BBC

Singapore Prison Service confirmed that Malaysian, Nagaenthran K. Dharmalingam, who was scheduled to be hanged today, had contracted COVID-19 on November 8th, delaying his last-bed appeal against his death sentence and subsequently his hanging. 

Saved By Covid? Malaysian On Death Row in Singapore Contracts Covid, Delaying His Execution

SINGAPORE – The Singapore Prison Service (SPS) reported that a Malaysian scheduled to be hanged today for drug trafficking tested positive for COVID-19 on November 9, 2021, and will be treated.

Nagaenthran K. Dharmalingam, 33, was scheduled to appear before the Court of Appeal on Tuesday for a last-bid appeal against his death sentence when the court learned that he had tested positive for COVID-19.

According to SPS, in Nagaenthran on November 8, 2021, an antigen rapid test (ART) and a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test were conducted, and the results were negative the same day.

“He was brought to court at noon of Nov 9, 2021. Upon receipt of his positive PCR test result later that afternoon, SPS immediately informed the court and Nagaenthran was isolated,” SPS published on their website.

Given the circumstances, the Court of Appeal issued a stay of judicial execution until all pending proceedings were completed.

SPS said that Nagaenthran would be treated medically and that proceedings will continue on a later date once he has recovered.

source - bbc

Nagaenthran, aged 21 at the time, was apprehended in 2009 while attempting to smuggle heroin into Singapore from Malaysia.

Nagaenthran was scheduled to be hung on today morning, but a last-minute stay of execution was granted. He was discovered test positive for Covid-19 on Tuesday, necessitating the execution to be postponed even further.

Despite a medical expert's assessment that he had an IQ of 69, a threshold recognised as indicating intellectual disability, the Malaysian citizen was sentenced to death.

The Singapore government, on the other hand, said that he “clearly understood the nature of his acts and did not lose his sense of judgement of the rightness or wrongness of what he was doing".

Singapore has one of the strictest drug laws in the world, and the use of the death sentence is relatively uncontroversial in the country. However, this case seems to have sparked a rare state of tension within the island country.

More than 60,000 individuals have signed a petition urging Singapore's president to pardon Nagaenthran, citing international human rights law that prohibits the execution of mentally ill individuals.

The movement has also gained traction on social media, where an outpouring of outrage and compassion has transpired.

“Nagaenthran is well and asymptomatic. He did not report any illness prior to his court hearing. He is not vaccinated as he had opted not to receive any COVID-19 vaccine,” said SPS.

SPS said that it has notified his family and would continue to provide the necessary support.

According to SPS, as of November 9, multiple detainees and personnel from Institution A1, where Nagaenthran is held, have tested positive for COVID-19.

Affected housing units at Institution A1, the prison institution, have been isolated to prevent the virus from spreading further.

According to SPS, Nagaenthran had very brief interaction with two employees who tested positive.

Given the amount of cases in the population during this period of the pandemic, more cases of infection are likely to emerge in prisons as well, and SPS said that it has taken precautions to keep the issue under control.

As of November 7, 97% of eligible inmates have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccination, with 90% having completed both doses.

Meanwhile, SPS reported that 99.5 percent of prison employees had completed both doses of vaccine.

SPS said that it would continue to implement safe management measures to protect the health and safety of inmates, employees, visitors, and partners.

“Staff and partners entering prison facilities must undergo ART twice weekly, while external personnel entering prisons on an ad-hoc basis are required to undergo an ART prior to each entry into prisons,” it said.

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