It was reported that a 46-year-old Singaporean man, Tangaraju Suppiah, was executed today (April 26) at the Changi Prison in Singapore for an attempt to traffic around 2.2 pounds (0.998 kgs) of cannabis into Singapore.
Despite the amount being just a little less than 1kg, Tangaraju was sentenced to death in 2018 for “abetting the trafficking of more than 1 kilogram of cannabis (1,017.9 grams)”, according to the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB).
According to a report by CNN, leading up to his execution, his family as well as human rights groups and activists called for lenience and questioned his conviction.
This is because the court had found that Tangaraju was in phone communications with two other men who were caught trying to smuggle cannabis into Singapore but he was never in contact with the cannabis himself.
“The case against Tangaraju is largely circumstantial and based on inferences. He never touched the cannabis he was accused of attempting to traffic.”
He was tied to the offense by two phone numbers found on the mobile phones of two men arrested by the CNB – one of which had been used to coordinate the cannabis delivery. Tangaraju was already in remand for a separate offense by the time he was linked to this case – and his mobile phones were never recorded for analysis,” shared the Transformative Justice Collective (TJC).
Despite this, appeals against his conviction and death sentence were shot down by the courts in 2019.
Now that Tangaraju has been executed, human rights groups and activists alike are condemning Singapore for the act, adding that they’ve fallen behind Malaysia on the matter of death sentences. This is due to Malaysia’s act of abolishing death penalties for all offenses in a unanimous vote.
Asia’s deputy director of Human Rights Watch, Phil Robertson, also pointed out that the fact that Tangaraju’s execution based on a cannabis offense is against the global effort towards legalising cannabis for medical purposes.
“It’s particularly outrageous that Tangaraju was arrested, convicted and executed for a cannabis related offense when much of the world is moving forward with cannabis legalisation based on medical assessments.”
“Putting him to death also shows just how far Singapore has fallen behind Malaysia – its leaders like to claim that their country is more modern and developed but in this case of criminal justice and the death penalty, Singapore is clearly the laggard”, he said.
Our hearts go out to Tangaraju’s loved ones.
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