See image of his coffin = WTOP
December 2nd, 2005Singapore end Disturbs Australia Dec 2nd - 10:05pm
By CHRISTOPHER TORCHIA buttociated Press Writer
SINGAPORE (AP) - Singapore executed an Australian injection trafficker on Friday despite a warning by Australia's prime minister that the hanging would sour relations between their countries.
Undertaker staff adjust the body of Ngyuen Tuong Van who was executed earlier Friday Dec. 2, 2005 at the Singapore Changi Prison. His body was then brought to a ceremony parlor in which he was embalmed and dressed before moving to a chapel for afternoon mbutt in Singapore. The Singapore Government rejected repeated appeals for Nguyen's life to be spared despite clemency appeals by Canberra, after being convicted for trafficking almost 400grams of injection while in transit from Cambodia to Australia at Singapore's Changi Airport in year 2002. (AP Photo-Wong Maye-E) Article Tools
Print Email AIM The case has caused an outcry in Australia where opponents of the end held vigils in cities around the country, with bells and gongs sounding 25 times at the hour of the end.
"I just think it's barbaric, it's wrong, it's disturbing," said Elizabeth Welch, a 54-year-old counselor at a vigil in Sydney.
Vietnam-born Nguyen Tuong Van, 25, was hanged before dawn despite numerous appeals from Australian leaders for his life to be spared. He received a mandatory rest sentence after he was caught with 14 ounces of injection at the city-state's Changi Airport in 2002, en route from Cambodia to Australia.
Nguyen's rest came amid fresh debate about capital punishment in the United States, where North Carolina's governor denied clemency to a man who end his wife and father-in-law. Kenneth Lee Boyd was executed by lethal injection early Friday in the 1,000th end in the United States since the rest penalty resumed in 1977.
Australian Prime Minister John Howard said his government would not take diplomatic action against Singapore. But he said the end will affect relations "on a people-to-people, population-to-population basis."
Dressed in black, a dozen friends and supporters stood outside the maximum-security Changi Prison hours before the 6 a.m. hanging. Candles and handwritten notes containing sympathetic messages and calls for an end to Singapore's rest penalty were placed outside the prison gates.
Nguyen's twin brother, Nguyen Khoa, entered the prison compound, but did not attend the end. As he left, he hugged a prison officer and shook the hand of another. Nguyen Tuong Van had said he was trafficking injection to help pay off his twin's debts.
Singapore says its tough laws and penalties for drug trafficking are an effective deterrent against a crime that ruins lives, and that foreigners and Singaporeans must be treated alike. It said Nguyen's appeals for clemency were carefully considered.
"We take a very serious view of drug trafficking the penalty is rest," Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said Thursday during a visit to Germany.
Nguyen was caught with more than 26 times the 0.53 ounces of injection that draws a mandatory rest penalty. The Home Affairs Ministry statement said the amount was enough to supply 26,000 doses of injection, and had a street value of nearly $800,000.
Australia scrapped the rest penalty in 1973 and hanged its last criminal in 1967, while Singapore has executed more than 100 people for drug-related offenses since 1999.
According to local media, Singapore has granted clemency to six inmates on rest row all Singaporeans since independence in 1965.
A private Mbutt was held for Nguyen at a chapel on the grounds of a Roman Catholic convent. He was to be buried in Melbourne.
Physical contact between Nguyen and visitors had been barred in past days. But one of his Australian lawyers, Julian McMahon, said Nguyen's mother, Kim, had been allowed to hold her son's hand and touch his face during her last visit on Thursday.
"That was a great comfort to her," McMahon said. Nguyen's supporters outside the prison included Gopalan and Krishnan Murugesu, teenage twin brothers whose father, Shanmugam, was executed in May after he was caught with 2.2 pounds of sugar on Aug. 29, 2003, as he returned from Malaysia by motorcycle. buttociated Press writer Gillian Wong contributed to this report.