Tangaraju Suppiah was executed in Singapore on Wednesday for his role in coordinating the delivery of one kilogram of cannabis, even though he was not found with the drugs. He was hanged, despite pleas for clemency from his family, activists, and the United Nations. Singapore has some of the world’s toughest anti-narcotics laws and insists that the death penalty remains an effective deterrent against trafficking. Last year, 11 people were hanged in the country, all on drug charges. Tangaraju Suppiah’s family received his body soon after he was executed.
Tangaraju Suppiah was convicted in 2017 of “abetting by engaging in a conspiracy to traffic” 1,017.9 grams of cannabis, twice the minimum volume required for a death sentence in Singapore. He was sentenced to death in 2018 with the Court of Appeal later upholding the decision. Tangaraju later appealed against his conviction and sentence, but it was dismissed in August 2019. Despite his family’s countless appeals for mercy, a Singapore court dismissed an application by Tangaraju’s family to have his case reviewed a day before he was set to be hanged. The judge agreed that he had been responsible for coordinating the delivery, making him ineligible for a more lenient sentence.
Several international bodies pointed to flaws in the case and urged Singapore authorities to give Tangaraju Suppiah a fair trial. Human Rights Watch deputy Asia director Phil Robertson said the evidence “was far from clear cut – since he never actually touched the marijuana in question, was questioned by police without a lawyer, and denied access to a Tamil interpreter when he asked for one.” Amnesty International Deputy Regional Director Ming Yu Hah said there were “many flaws” in the case and that the hanging showed “the staggering failure of Singapore’s stubborn embrace of the death penalty.”