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The absurdity of another M'sian in S'pore being sentenced to death

M Ravi
Published:  |  Modified:

COMMENT | The Singapore Court of Appeal has just dismissed the appeal against the death sentence of Malaysian D Nagaenthran.

Nagaenthran suffers from mental illness or intellectual disability, according to his own medical expert, Dr Ken Ung.

This could have saved him from the gallows if he had been able to convince the court that he suffers from such mental impairment.

Unfortunately, the court chose instead to rely on reports from the Institute of Mental Health psychiatrists, which indicated that Nagaenthran's mental condition does not sufficiently qualify as mental impairment.

Nevertheless, the prosecution and the High Court accepted that he suffers from a mild intellectual disabilty.

A very significant point which was not raised in Nagaenthran's appeal was that the expert evidence of the state’s third medical expert, Dr Koh Wun Wu, was made without further independent medical examination of Nagaenthran.

It was made instead with the objective of "making observations" on Ung's conclusions.

This practice, known as 'poking holes' in the defence's report, is an unacceptable practice in criminal trials. To me, this renders the Court of Appeal's decision as being one in breach of the right to a fair trial under international law.

Furthermore, it is widely accepted that the execution of mentally ill or persons with intellectual disabilities is a clear violation of international standards.

Both international and domestic laws in many countries around the world prohibit the execution of people with mental illness or intellectual disabilities.

Several international organisations have spoken and campaigned actively in this regard.

As I am in the process of drafting a memorandum to the Malaysian government, where I will set out in detail as to why it should file a complaint to the International Court of Justice in view of the aforesaid breaches of international law, I sadly recall his distraught mother and brother's pleas and how I was consoling them not to lose hope.

I will include several other breaches of the right to a fair trial that Nagaenthran has suffered. This may be one way to save Nagaenthran.

The Singapore Anti-Death Penalty Campaign (SADPC) will also kick off its international campaign to save Nagaenthran with immediate effect.

M RAVI is an international human rights lawyer.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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