PUCL, November 2003

Arunprakash Vaithilingam: Indian worker hanged in Singapore for murder

Agence France Presse
October 3, 2003

PRISON officials on Friday, Oct 3, hanged an Indian worker for the
murder of a colleague two years ago, bringing to 13 the number of
people executed in the city-state this year.

A statement from the Singapore Police Force said Arunprakash
Vaithilingam "was hanged at Changi Prison this morning at 6 am for
the murder of his colleague (and) flat-mate, Lourdusamy Lenin

Vaithilingam, 25, from Tiruvarur in India's southern Tamil Nadu
state, stabbed Salvanayagan, also from Tamil Nadu, with a knife
during an argument three days before Christmas in 2001, the police
statement said.

The victim was taken to a hospital where he died the next day.

Vaithilingam was arrested at a checkpoint on March 18, 2002 and was
charged with murder. He was found guilty on December 9 last year
after a five-day trial and was sentenced to death.

His appeal against the conviction was dismissed in February, the
statement said.

Civil rights groups in India and Vaithilingam's parents had earlier
petitioned Singapore President Sellapan Ramanathan Nathan for grant

The parents had argued that Vaithlingam had attacked his friend in a
sudden fit of anger and there was no intention to kill.

"In fact, after stabbing Lenin, Arun had taken him to a nearby
hospital with his friends," his father said in a petition to Nathan.

Amnesty International has also pleaded with the Singapore government
to reconsider the death sentence.

A delegation of the Indian rights group People's Union for Civil
met Singapore Consul Koh Siew Mui in Madras on Wednesday
and handed a petition appealing to the Singaporean government to
commute the death sentence.

The hanging on Friday brought to 13 the number of people executed in
Singapore this year and followed the execution on September 26 of two
Malaysian men convicted of drug trafficking.

According to government figures, 28 people were executed in 2002, 27
in 2001 and 21 in 2000.

Singapore, which has a reputation of being a relatively crime-free
society, has resisted pressure mainly from Western countries and
groups to drop its death penalty law, saying it was crucial in the
fight against criminality.

Human rights group Amnesty International said in its annual report
for 2003 that Singapore had one of the highest execution rates in the
world, relative to its population of about 4.2 million people.

But an ongoing poll by Internet portal Yahoo showed majority of
Singaporeans support the death penalty.

Of the 2899 respondents, 55 percent supported capital punishment as
it helps keep the crime rate down.

Another 27 percent also gave their support but said its use should be
restricted. Only 14 percent opposed the death penalty, while two
percent were unsure.


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