The family of Tangaraju Suppiah, a Singaporean man who is set to be executed by hanging next week for conspiring to smuggle over a kilogram of cannabis, has pleaded for clemency from the authorities and urged a retrial.
Tangaraju was sentenced to death in 2018, and his sentence has been upheld by the Court of Appeal. However, his sister, Leelavathy Suppiah, stated in a news conference in Tamil that they don’t believe he had a fair trial, and they have faith that the president will consider their petitions.
She went ahead by describing her brother as a kind and well-liked person who has always helped his family.
She broke down in tears, expressing her hope that the president will consider their pleas for clemency.
“We don’t think my brother’s had a fair trial … I have faith the president will read all our petitions,” his sister Leelavathy Suppiah said.
She added that; “Since young, he’s been kind and well-liked by everyone, and he’s never done anything bad to anyone … he’s sacrificed everything to help his family.”
Leelavathy further added that Tangaraju has always been kind and well-liked, and he has never done anything wrong to anyone. He has sacrificed everything to support his family, and it will be the first execution in Singapore in the past six months.
Tangaraju was convicted in 2017 of abetting by engaging in a conspiracy to traffic 1,017.9 grams of cannabis, which is twice the minimum amount that warrants the death sentence under Singapore’s stringent drug laws.
Many countries worldwide, including neighbouring Thailand, have decriminalized cannabis, and rights groups are urging Singapore to abolish capital punishment. Nonetheless, Singapore upholds the death penalty as an effective deterrent against drug trafficking, and the country has some of the world’s toughest anti-narcotics laws.
Tangaraju’s family members, friends, and relatives signed petitions at the news conference, and activists pledged to deliver them to the president’s office. They argue that there were loopholes in the case, and Tangaraju never handled the drugs.
They also claim that Tangaraju was questioned by police without legal counsel, and he was denied a Tamil interpreter during the recording of his first police statement.
However, Singapore’s Central Narcotics Bureau stated that Tangaraju had access to legal counsel throughout the process, and the judge found it disingenuous given Tangaraju’s admission that he made no request for an interpreter for any of the other statements.
Singapore resumed execution by hanging in March 2022 after a hiatus of more than two years, and last year, eleven executions were carried out, all for drug offences.
One of those executed was Nagaenthran K. Dharmalingam, whose execution sparked a global outcry because he was deemed to have a mental disability. Tangaraju’s niece, Subhashini Ilango, stated that her uncle has been brave, and he believes that God will help him. Nevertheless, he has said he is prepared for Wednesday, but his death will be unjust.