Tangaraju Suppiah, an Indian-origin Singaporean, was executed on Wednesday for trafficking more than 1kg of cannabis, according to the Singapore Prison Service. Tangaraju, 46, was put to death despite last-minute appeals for clemency from his family and activists. Singapore has some of the toughest anti-drug laws in the world, which it says are necessary to protect society.
Tangaraju was convicted in October 2018 by a High Court judge of a capital charge of abetting an accomplice by conspiring to traffic cannabis. He was sentenced to death after failing to fulfill any of the criteria that would free him from death row. He later appealed against his conviction and sentence, but it was dismissed in August 2019.
In November 2022, Tangaraju filed a criminal motion for permission to apply to review the concluded appeal, which was dismissed in February 2023. In his latest bid, Tangaraju argued that the prosecution had failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he and his accomplice had an agreement to traffic the specific quantity of 1017.9 g of cannabis.
However, the court dismissed his argument, with Justice of the Court of Appeal Steven Chong stating that Tangaraju had failed to show a legitimate basis for the court to review his case. “There is also no basis for the court to exercise its inherent power to reopen a concluded criminal appeal,” he said.
Tangaraju had drawn support from various activists and even British billionaire Richard Branson. In a blog post, Branson claimed that Tangaraju’s conviction did not meet standards and that “Singapore may be about to kill an innocent man”.
While Singapore has some of the strictest rules in the region, its neighbors have made recent changes. Thailand legalized the trade of cannabis, while Malaysia ended the mandatory death penalty for serious crimes.