SINGAPORE — A Singapore court on Tuesday stayed until further notice the execution of a Malaysian convicted of drug smuggling, on the grounds of “common sense and humanity” after confirming he had tested positive for COVID-19.
Nagaenthran Dharmalingam, 33, was due to be hanged on Wednesday morning and the court had convened on Tuesday for a ruling on a last-ditch appeal that argued the Malaysian should not be hanged because he was not of sound mind.
The case has attracted international attention, with Malaysia’s prime minister, a group of U.N. experts and British billionaire Richard Branson among those who have called on Singapore to commute Nagaenthran’s death sentence.
“We have got to use logic, common sense and humanity,” the judge said in court.
Nagaenthran was arrested in April 2009 for trafficking about 42.72 grams of pure heroin and his lawyer had launched an 11th-hour appeal against the execution arguing he was not mentally fit.
The judge did not rule on the appeal on Tuesday.
Nagaenthran’s lawyer said hanging him would violate Singapore’s constitution because he was intellectually challenged.
His lawyer M Ravi, and activists say his intellect was at a level recognized as a mental disability, and he has other disorders affecting his decision-making and impulse control.
Authorities previously said Singapore courts were satisfied Nagaenthran knew what he was doing.