Singapore death penalty: Rehearsal of execution today for Tangaraju Suppiah

Singapore death row convict Tangaraju Suppiah will be taken today to his execution chamber, to have the prison authorities explain to him how he would die tomorrow. This was revealed in a tweet early this morning by Singapore-based activist Kokila Annamalai, who has been posting nonstop about the desperate attempts of the Suppiah family, especially of the convict’s sister Leelavathy, to save him.

The family of Tangaraju Suppiah has been desperately trying to stop his execution, scheduled for April 26. Photo courtesy: Twitter/@Kokilaparvathi

The family has time until 4pm today to visit Tangaraju in jail. According to the activist’s tweet posted at 12.46am today: “Appu also told his family during yesterday’s visit that at some point today, he would be taken to the execution chamber and the prison guards would explain to him how the execution will take place.”

Quoting the family, she posted that Tangaraju’s belongings were returned to them, but they were not allowed to touch the prisoner. Tangaraju was arrested in March 2014, as per earlier reports, which makes it nine years since his belongings came back to the family. Talking about the trauma of it for the family, the activist also posted a photograph that showed a teenage Tangaraju striking a Spider-Man pose.

Tangaraju Suppiah as a teenager, striking a Spider-Man pose. Photo courtesy: Twitter/@Kokilaparvathi

Tangaraju, a Singaporean Tamil man of Hindu religion, had wanted a special rudraksh (prayer bead) and some blessed kumkum (powder) before his death. Kokila tweeted that a friend had managed to obtain the special prayer bead, and that the family had travelled to Kuala Lumpur in neighbouring Malaysia to offer puja at the temple specified by Tangaraju and brought back the blessed kumkum. But in the end, the family was not allowed to give these items to the man marked for death.

Tangaraju Suppiah was sentenced to death in December 2018 for being the “intended recipient” of a parcel of 1kg marijuana. The scheduled execution, the first in Singapore in 2023, has drawn international attention for the fact that the convict was never in possession of the drugs.

Also read: Singapore death penalty: Tamil man to be executed on April 26 over marijuana trafficking

Also read: Singapore death penalty: Family of Tamil man Tangaraju Suppiah pleads for mercy, retrial

According to the people who want him saved, Tangaraju was not helped with an interpreter while giving his first statement for the police records, and he was also not given legal representation when first arrested. The Singapore authorities have said that he had legal counsel all throughout. The judge found the interpreter point insubstantial because, he remarked, Tangaraju did not ask for an interpreter thereafter.

Kokila argued in her tweets that the power inequality between himself and the law enforcement officials made the hapless Tangaraju give up the request for an interpreter when he did not get one the first time.

On Sunday, his sister Leelavathy Suppiah pleaded for clemency and a retrial for Tangaraju. She and other members of the family also prepared a mercy petition to be handed over to the President of Singapore Halimah Yacob. However, there is no official response yet to these pleas.