Row Erupts Between Richard Branson and Singapore Over the Impending Execution of a Man Accused of Trafficking 1 Kg of Cannabis
Tangaraju Suppiah is due to be hanged in Singapore on Wednesday 26 April 2023 for abetting the trafficking in 2013 of more than 1kg of cannabis, Virgin founder Richard Branson appealed to authorities in Singapore not to go ahead with the execution but the Island state has hit back at the billionaire’s claims that the man may be innocent.
Chen Lin, Reuters News
Reuters reports that Singapore on Tuesday, 25 April 2023, accused Richard Branson of peddling falsehoods and disrespecting its justice system after the British billionaire called for the government to spare a man set to be executed for drug trafficking.
Singapore is due to hang Tangaraju Suppiah, 46, on Wednesday, 26 April 2023, for abetting the trafficking in 2013 of more than 1kg of cannabis, double the threshold for awarding the death penalty in the city-state, which is known for its tough laws on narcotics.
Branson said in a blog post that the verdict against Tangaraju didn’t meet standards for criminal conviction, and that “Singapore may be about to kill an innocent man”, as he was not near the drugs when he was arrested.
Singapore’s home ministry said its courts spent more than three years examining the case and Branson’s claim was “patently untrue”.
“It is regrettable that Mr Branson, in wanting to argue his case, should resort to purporting to know more about the case than Singapore’s courts,” it said.
Singapore executed 11 people last year and says most of its people support the death penalty as a deterrent against drugs.
Many of Singapore’s neighbours have no death penalty or have placed executions on hold. Earlier this month Malaysia passed legal reforms to end mandatory capital punishment.
Tangaraju’s family have sent letters to Singapore’s president seeking clemency, while the local missions of the EU and its member states have jointly called for him to be given a non-capital sentence.
Singapore and Branson have previously locked horns over the death penalty, and the Briton criticised authorities last year for hanging a Malaysian man convicted of trafficking heroin, who activists said was intellectually impaired.
Branson declined Singapore’s invitation for him to join a debate on the issue.