SINGAPORE, March 1 ― A Singapore court is expected to rule on Tuesday on an appeal against the execution of a Malaysian convicted of drugs smuggling, a fate from which activists and United Nations experts say he should be spared because he is mentally impaired.

Nagaenthran Dharmalingam, 33, has been on death row for more than a decade for trafficking 42.72 grams of heroin into Singapore, a South-east Asian city-state known for having some of the world’s toughest laws against illegal drugs.

His case has attracted international attention, with Malaysia’s prime minister, a group of UN experts and British billionaire Richard Branson among those who have called on Singapore to commute his death sentence.

The court had stayed Dharmalingam’s execution last year without ruling on his appeal after he tested positive for Covid-19 a day before he was due to be hanged.

His former lawyer M. Ravi and activists say Dharmalingam’s intellect was at a level recognised as a mental disability, and he has other disorders affecting his decision-making and impulse control.

Authorities have said Singapore courts were satisfied that he knew what he was doing when committing the offence.

From 2016 to 2019, Singapore hanged 25 people ― the majority for drug-related offences, according to official data. ― Reuters