Singapore ’s highest court on Tuesday dismissed an appeal against the execution of a Malaysian man for drug smuggling, describing his defence as “hopeless” and lawyers’ claims of him being mentally disabled as without legal or factual basis. In a written judgment on the case involving Nagaenthran K. Dharmalingam, the five-judge Court of Appeal once again underscored its long-standing position that only legislative change could alter the country’s stance on retaining capital punishment. The case has attracted global attention owing to campaigners’ assertion that Nagaenthran, 33, is going to be hanged despite the fact he has the mental age of a minor. With the Court of Appeal’s latest ruling, there is a risk that the “execution could be scheduled very soon”, the Britain-based anti-death penalty charity Reprieve said in a statement, noting past precedent of a death-row inmate being hanged the day after an appeal was dismissed. Nagaenthran was detained in April 2009 – when he was 21 – for carrying 42.72g of heroin into Singapore. He was convicted in 2010 and given the death penalty. An earlier judicial review involving Nagaenthran’s death sentence was dismissed by the Court of Appeal in 2019. Singapore court rejects appeals by three men on death row The current appeal was initially scheduled to have been heard in court on November 9 last year – a day before his planned execution – but Nagaenthran tested positive for Covid-19, and a stay of execution was granted . In their judgment, the Court of Appeal led by Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon said the latest appeal had relied on defence counsel M. Ravi’s “firm belief” of Nagaenthran’s mental age – even though the lawyer “acknowledged that he did not have the necessary medical expertise to form a view on the question of the appellant’s mental age”. Nagaenthran’s IQ of 69 had never been in dispute, but the trial judge ruled he had borderline intellectual functioning rather than an intellectual disability. In short, the legal case mounted by the appellant is hopeless Singapore Court of Appeal ruling “In short, the legal case mounted by the appellant is hopeless both because it is without any factual or legal basis and because it rests on serious misconceptions as to the correct nature of the interface between domestic and international law under our legal system,” the Court of Appeal said. The judges also said they viewed the latest appeal helmed by M. Ravi, and subsequently by another lawyer Violet Netto, as constituting “a blatant and egregious abuse of the court’s processes”. They said the manner in which the lawyers conducted themselves suggested they were “drip-feeding” various applications to “thwart the court’s efforts to discharge its responsibility to dispose of the matter timeously”. Death penalty: world executes fewer prisoners, Singapore and Vietnam kill more While lawyers “may well have passionate views that run counter to imposition of the death penalty”, the proper recourse for them – and anyone else – was to “seek legislative change if they are minded to do so”, the court said. “But as long as the law validly provides for the imposition of capital punishment in the specified circumstances, it is improper for counsel to abuse the process of the court and thereby bring the administration of criminal justice into disrepute by filing one hopeless application after another and by drip-feeding the supposed evidence.” Anti-death penalty campaigners immediately slammed the court’s verdict. Reprieve said that while the government had “made clear its commitment to champion the rights of persons with disabilities”, allowing Nagaenthran’s execution to proceed “would fly in the face of those promises”. The group’s director Maya Foa urged Singapore’s President Halimah Yacob – who has powers to commute a death sentence if she is advised to do so by the government – to exercise that prerogative. “We urge President Halimah Yacob to listen to the cries for mercy within Singapore and around the world, from the United Nations to global business leaders, and spare the life of this vulnerable man,” Foa said in a statement. Local campaigners say several other death row inmates may imminently be hanged, going by their recent interactions with family members. Campaigners fear that Singapore’s prison services may be seeking to clear a “backlog” of executions as no one has been executed in the last two years. There were four executions in 2019. Kirsten Han, a prominent anti-death penalty activist and independent journalist in the country, has previously said there may be more than 50 people on Singapore’s death row. The family of Abdul Kahar bin Othman have received an execution notice informing them that his hanging has been scheduled for 30 March 2022 (Wednesday). Abdul Kahar is 68 years old. #AbolishDeathPenalty pic.twitter.com/ZCgF29J69a — Transformative Justice Collective (@tjc_singapore) March 24, 2022 One of them, convicted drug trafficker Abdul Kahar bin Othman, is scheduled to be hanged on Wednesday, according to the local rights group, Transformative Justice Collective. Six others – Pannir Selvam Pranthaman, Syed Suhail bin Syed Zin, Moad Fadzir bin Mustaffa, Roslan bin Bakar, Pausi Bin Jefridin and Rosman Bin Abdullah – have also been issued execution notices since 2019 after their earlier conviction and sentencing by the courts, the group said. Their executions are on hold pending legal cases. Under Singapore law, a death sentence in the High Court must be confirmed by the Court of Appeal regardless of whether the convicted person files an appeal. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong ’s government has stoutly defended the retention of capital punishment for crimes such as drug trafficking and murder. Singaporeans facing death sentences in China on drugs charges get consular help The Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam told lawmakers earlier in March that preliminary findings from a survey conducted by the government showed that a majority of Singapore residents backed the death penalty. On the question as to whether the mandatory death penalty was appropriate, 81 per cent said it was appropriate for intentional murder, 71 per cent said it was appropriate for firearm offences and 66 per cent said it was appropriate for drug trafficking, Shanmugam said.