The Singapore Court of Appeal on Tuesday dismissed a bid for leniency by an Indian-origin Malaysian drug trafficker who was sentenced to death in 2010, according to a media report.
Nagaenthran Dharmalingam, 34, had appealed against a High Court decision that dismissed his application to commence judicial review proceedings on the basis that he purportedly possessed the mental age of someone below 18.
The Malaysian national had also mounted a criminal motion to be assessed by an independent panel of psychiatrists, with a stay of execution in the meantime.
Delivering the verdict on behalf of a five-judge panel, Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon dismissed the appellant’s case as “baseless and without merit, both as a matter of fact and of law”, Channel News Asia reported.
“In our judgment, these proceedings constitute a blatant and egregious abuse of the court’s processes,” said the Court of Appeal.
“They have been conducted with the seeming aim of unjustifiably delaying the carrying into effect of the sentence imposed on the appellant.”
Nagaenthran Dharmalingam was sentenced to death in 2010 for importing 42.72g of heroin into Singapore in 2009 in a bundle strapped to his thigh.
He previously failed in his appeals to the High Court in 2011, to the Apex Court in 2019, and in his petition to the president for clemency.
Nagaenthran Dharmalingam was represented by Violet Netto. His former lawyer Ravi Madasamy, better known as M Ravi, was also in attendance.
Earlier this month, Netto had argued for him to receive an “independent” psychiatric assessment and “up-to-date full neuro-cognitive test” to evaluate his competence to be executed and prescribe the necessary treatment.
The prosecution had responded that there was no reliable evidence that Nagaenthran’s mental condition had deteriorated and that he was not competent for execution, and no basis to grant the application for him to be assessed by a panel of psychiatrists.
The Court of Appeal said the appellant’s central argument was that “because of an alleged deterioration in the appellant’s mental faculties since the time of his offence, the sentence of death cannot be allowed to be carried out”.
However, there was no admissible evidence to show such a decline in Nagenthran’s mental condition.
The only evidence provided for the application was an affidavit of Ravi in which he made a “bare assertion” about the appellant’s mental age.
Concluding its judgment, the Court of Appeal said the imposition and carrying out of the death penalty were always “difficult matters”.
“Counsel may well have passionate views that run counter to imposition of the death penalty. At a societal level, the proper recourse for them and indeed for anyone similarly situated is to seek legislative change if they are minded to do so,” it said.
“But as long as the law validly provides for the imposition of capital punishment in the specified circumstances, it is improper for counsel to abuse the process of the court and thereby bring the administration of criminal justice into disrepute by filing one hopeless application after another and by drip-feeding the supposed evidence,” the ruling concluded.