Press Releases

MHA’s Statement in Response to Media Queries Regarding Nagaenthran A/L K Dharmalingam (“Nagaenthran”)

Published: 03 November 2021

1.    Nagaenthran was charged with, and convicted of, importing one packet of granular substance containing not less than 42.72 grammes of diamorphine. The Misuse of Drugs Act provides for the death penalty if the amount of diamorphine imported is more than 15 grammes. 42.72 grammes of diamorphine is equivalent to about 3,560 straws of heroin, which is sufficient to feed the addiction of about 510 abusers for a week.

2.    Nagaenthran appealed against his conviction and sentence, and the Court of Appeal dismissed his appeal on 27 July 2011. After the amendments to the death penalty regime under the Misuse of Drugs Act came into effect in January 2013, Nagaenthran was eligible to apply for re-sentencing. On 24 February 2015, Nagaenthran filed a re-sentencing application to set aside the death sentence imposed on him and to substitute a sentence of life imprisonment in its place. The re-sentencing application sought to determine whether he was suffering from an abnormality of mind which substantially impaired his mental responsibility for the offence. The High Court dismissed the application on 14 September 2017, having considered all the facts of the case, expert evidence from psychiatrists, as well as further submissions to the High Court. The High Court found that Nagaenthran was not suffering from an abnormality of mind at the time of the offence.

3.    On 27 March 2015, Nagaenthran filed a judicial review application against the Public Prosecutor’s decision to not issue a certificate of substantive assistance under s 33B of the Misuse of Drugs Act. The High Court dismissed the application on 4 May 2018.

4.    Nagaenthran appealed against the High Court’s decisions on both applications, and the Court of Appeal dismissed both appeals on 27 May 2019. His petition to the President for clemency was unsuccessful. 

5.    Nagaenthran’s defence of duress was fully ventilated in Court and the High Court found that the defence was fabricated. This was subsequently upheld by the Court of Appeal, which flatly rejected Nagaenthran’s account of being coerced under duress. Nagaenthran himself resiled from his claim of duress in subsequent proceedings, and accepted that he committed the offence because he needed money, as opposed to having been labouring under any threat. The Court of Appeal found that Nagaenthran’s vacillation between various accounts of why he had committed the offence did not aid his case at all.

6.    With regard to Nagaenthran’s mental state, the High Court and Court of Appeal held that Nagaenthran’s mental responsibility for his offence was not substantially impaired. Nagaenthran was found to have clearly understood the nature of his acts, and he did not lose his sense of judgment of the rightness or wrongness of what he was doing. He knew it was unlawful for him to be transporting the drugs, and he concealed the drugs to avoid it being found. Despite knowing the unlawfulness of his acts, he undertook the criminal endeavour so that he could pay off some part of a monetary debt. The Court of Appeal found that this was the working of a criminal mind, weighing the risks and countervailing benefits associated with the criminal conduct in question, and that Nagaenthran took a calculated risk which, contrary to his expectations, materialised. It was a deliberate, purposeful and calculated decision on Nagaenthran’s part to take the chance.

7.    Nagaenthran was accorded full due process under the law, and was represented by legal counsel throughout the process.

8.    The Singapore Prison Service (SPS) has been in touch with Nagaenthran’s Next-Of-Kin (NOK) by phone and email on a daily basis since 27 October 2021 to explain and address any of the family’s queries on the required travel arrangements. SPS has also liaised closely with the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority, Ministry of Health, Singapore Tourism Board, as well as other government agencies, to smoothen their travel application and make the necessary arrangements for entry into Singapore.

9.    Upon their entry into Singapore, Nagaenthran’s visitors will be granted extended face-to-face visits daily. SPS will continue to render assistance to the family throughout.