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28 November 2005

four days to a hanging

Australian Nguyen Tuong Van, 25, will -- if Singapore can find a new hangman -- be hanged this Friday. This photo from a webpage devoted to Van's case by the Network Against Prohibition, Northern Territories, Australia.

Vleeptron Advisory: The United States of America is the last nation in the Western Developed World which still practices the Death Penalty, in some states (notoriously Texas) quite liberally. American readers in particular are advised not to be too horrified by the suggestion of state barbarity in these two Australian stories about Singapore. Public hangings were taught to the Singapore justice system during the colonial era by the British authorities. The UK no longer has the death penalty. Some of its former colonies are finding it difficult to part with Britain's gift of state-committed murder.

Notice the collision of ethnicities. Nguyen Tuong Van is an ethnic Vietnamese. Singapore is primarily ethnic Chinese. Darshan Singh, Singapore's hangman, is ethnic Indian. The British, who gave Singapore its justice system and penchant for rule by the terror of the noose, are largely gone now. The Australian metalsmith who has volunteered to perform the execution of his fellow Australian is Caucasian. Notice that the target of his murderous hatred is not drug smugglers but addicts.


AAP / Australian Associated Press
Monday 28 November 2005

Singapore says
hangman not sacked

Singapore's prison authorities have denied the city-state's chief executioner Darshan Singh has been sacked.

Singh, 74, has hanged more than 800 prisoners in a career spanning 45 years, and he had been expected to be the executioner of Australian drug trafficker Nguyen Tuong Van on Friday.

"Darshan Singh has not been sacked and continues to be a contract officer engaged by the prisons department," a spokesman for the prisons department said on Monday.

"There is no change to his status," added the spokesman, but he would not confirm whether Singh would be the executioner in Nguyen's case.

Nguyen, 25, faces the gallows at dawn local time after all appeals for clemency have been rejected by the government.

Reports of Singh's dismissal appeared on Sunday in an Australian article that speculated a replacement would be flown in from Malaysia.

Singh appeared to substantiate the story later on Sunday when he was quoted as saying: "They called me a few days ago and said I don't have to hang Nguyen and that I don't have to work any more."

The reported reason for the sacking was Singh's comments in an interview that appeared in an Australian press report earlier this month.

An Australian sheetmetal worker on Monday reportedly offered his services to Singapore to replace Singh as hangman.

Keith Sauerwald, 65, from Darwin in the Northern Territory, told Agence France-Presse he had written to the Singapore High Commission in Canberra to request the job.

"Apparently not too many people want the job and somebody has to do the job, and to do the job I think you have to have a rather large dislike for drug addicts," Sauerwald was quoted as saying.

"I have a great dislike for druggos (drug addicts)," he reportedly said.

©AAP/Australian Associated Press 2005


Sidney Morning Herald (Australia)
Saturday 26 November 2005

'I am going to send you
to a better place.
God bless you'

By Connie Levett, Herald Correspondent in Singapore

THREE paces down, three paces back. There is not a lot of room to stretch your legs in a cell on death row. There is a simple bed, a toilet hole and a tap.

Prisoner 856, Nguyen Tuong Van, 25, has been in that cell, or one like it, since March 2004 when Singapore's High Court found him guilty of trafficking 396 grams of heroin and sentenced him to hang by the neck until death. The "until" is significant. Death penalty opponents say it can take up to 10 minutes.

As Nguyen enters his final week, the strict prison regime will be eased to give him more access to family. The daily one-hour visits will be increased to three-hour blocks twice a day, with up to four visitors at a time.

But one thing will not change: there will be no physical contact, no last hug from his mother Kim or brother Khoa.

Nguyen will receive another, less welcome visitor this week -- 73-year-old Darshan Singh, Singapore's hangman for the past 46 years. He will weigh the slight young Australian to calculate the precise length of rope needed to break Nguyen's neck when he drops through the gallows trapdoor. To get it wrong could mean the prisoner is decapitated.

Nguyen's family has been given more notice of the execution than a Singaporean family, which is only told four days beforehand. The prisoner is usually told a day later. For Nguyen, the news came via the television.

It is likely that Nguyen, who has become a Catholic during his almost three years in jail, will seek counsel from a prison chaplain in the days before his execution. At his request, a priest can attend the hanging.

Nguyen will be able to request his last meal on Thursday.

On Friday he will be woken early so he can bathe before he is handcuffed and makes the short walk from his cell to the gallows.

The executioner will place a hood over Nguyen's head and say the words he has uttered to every condemned prisoner: "I am going to send you to a better place than this. God bless you."

Then Kim Nguyen will get one more instruction from the Singapore authorities: to collect her son's body by 1 pm or the authorities will cremate him.

- 30 -


Anonymous patromch said...

Now there is Dante and his vision, the genius of Bach and Shakespeare, Platon and the ideal state, Morus and Utopia, Kant and Free Will, Rousseau and Pure Reason, Martin Luther King and Human Dignity. Hobbes and Locke and CG Jung.
And then there is this
As I write this the execution is less than half an hour away and if there is a God (which I doubt) I hope he has pity on us and Mr Van because we are still a bunch of stupid ignorant retard bastrds. We ALL are


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