Lawyer for drug trafficker facing execution objected to disclosure of psychiatric records in court: AGC

A senior prison officer who had interacted with Nagaenthran for close to three years had not seen any abnormal behaviour from the inmate. ST PHOTOS: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - The lawyer acting for convicted drug trafficker Nagaenthran K. Dharmalingam, who is challenging his impending execution on Wednesday (Nov 10) on the basis of intellectual disability, had objected to his client's latest psychiatric and medical records that would have revealed his mental state being disclosed in court on Monday.

In contradiction to Mr M. Ravi's argument that Nagaenthran suffered from a disability, a senior prison officer who had interacted with Nagaenthran for close to three years also had not seen any abnormal behaviour from the inmate, who was able to request religious counselling after being told that he would be hanged in the near future.

These points were made by the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) in a statement on Monday after Nagaenthran's application to challenge his execution was dismissed by the High Court.

The sole factual basis for the application rested on the testimony of Nagaenthran's lawyer, said the AGC.

Mr Ravi claimed that Nagaenthran "did not appear… to understand what is happening to him in respect of the impending execution of his sentence of death", said the AGC.

Mr Ravi also asserted his "firm belief" that 33-year-old Nagaenthran has a mental age of a person below 18 years of age.

In its statement, the AGC noted that Nagaenthran - who was arrested in 2009 with a bundle of heroin strapped to his thigh - undergoes regular medical and psychiatric assessments in prison.

On Nov 5, the AGC wrote to Mr Ravi to seek Nagaenthran's consent to disclose to the court the records of his latest assessments.

The AGC said Mr Ravi did not reply and made no attempt to take instructions from Nagaenthran on this issue.

The chambers said it again asked Mr Ravi at the hearing before Justice See Kee Oon on Monday if Nagaenthran consented to the disclosure of the records.

AGC said the Singapore Prison Service (SPS) was ready to facilitate an urgent video call for Mr Ravi to take instructions from Nagaenthran.

"When asked by the court as to whether he would like to take up the state's offer, Mr Ravi refused, and when asked by the court if he was objecting to the production of the records, Mr Ravi confirmed that he was," said the statement.

The AGC also recounted the testimony of a prison officer to the court that related to his dealings with Nagaenthran.

The officer said Nagaenthran had no problem communicating with prison officers in English, Malay and Tamil, making requests and responding to instructions.

When Nagaenthran was notified that he could be hanged in the near future, he asked for religious counselling and a DVD player to play religious songs. He also asked to call his family members and for them to visit him, as well as for his choice of prison officers to attend to his needs in the lead-up to his execution.

"Nagaenthran was also able to plan his daily visit and call schedules, and reschedule them in the event of clashes. He continues to communicate coherently and purposefully, and is able to provide contact numbers of relatives and even a childhood friend whom he had not contacted for some time.

"In the context of making these arrangements, Nagaenthran had emphasised to the SPS officer that he had a short time left to live."

Mr Ravi has filed an appeal, which is being heard on Tuesday.

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