HONG KONG, AP -- Singapore executed a man on Wednesday accused of coordinating a marijuana delivery despite pleas from his family for clemency and protests by activists who said he had been convicted based on weak evidence.
Tangaraju Suppiah (46), was sentenced in 2018 to death for aiding and abetting trafficking 1 kilogram (2,2 pounds) of marijuana. Trafficking in cannabis greater than 500 grams is punishable by death under Singapore law.
Kirsten Han, an activist with the Transformative Justice Collective that advocates the abolitionist of the death sentence in Singapore, tweeted that Tangaraju had been hanged on Wednesday morning, and that the death certificate was given to his family.
Although Tangaraju wasn't caught with cannabis, prosecutors claimed that phone numbers linked him to the person who coordinated the delivery of drugs. Tangaraju claimed that he did not communicate with others involved in the case.
In a letter to Singapore President Halimah Yaccob, relatives and activists pleaded for clemency. In a Transformative Justice Collective video, Tangaraju’s nieces and nephews appealed for the public to voice their concerns about Tangaraju’s imminent execution.
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A Monday application by Tangaraju for a stay in execution was denied without hearing on Tuesday.
Critics claim that Singapore's death sentence has mainly been used to catch low-level mules, and it has done little to deter drug traffickers or organized syndicates. Singapore's government insists that those who were executed received a full due process and that the death sentence is necessary to protect Singaporeans.
Richard Branson is a British billionaire who has been outspoken in his opposition to the death penalty. He had called for an end to the execution on a blog, saying 'Singapore could be about kill an innocent man'
Singapore authorities criticised Branson's claims, saying that he showed disrespect for the Singaporean justice system because Tangaraju had been found guilty.
In a briefing on human rights held by the United Nations on Tuesday, Ravina Shamdasani, spokeswoman for the organization, called on Singapore to adopt a "formal moratorium" on executions of drug-related crimes.
Shamdasani said that the death sentence for drug offenses is not in line with international standards and norms. He also added that there is increasing evidence to show the death punishment is ineffective in deterring.
Singapore authorities claim that there is a strong deterrent in the city state when traffickers do not carry amounts exceeding the threshold which would lead to the death penalty.
In contrast to its neighbors, the island state's harsh stance against drug-related death penalties is a stark contrast. In Thailand, cannabis is essentially legal, while Malaysia has abolished the death penalty for serious crimes.