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Branson urges Singapore to ‘grant mercy’ to woman set for hanging

Richard Branson urges Singapore to halt the execution of a woman convicted of drug trafficking, criticizing the use of death penalty for non-violent drug offenses.



SINGAPORE, SINGAPORE — British tycoon Richard Branson urged Singapore on Thursday to halt an impending hanging that would be the city-state’s first execution of a woman in nearly 20 years.

Convicted drug trafficker Saridewi Djamani, 45, is scheduled to be hanged on Friday, according to the local rights group Transformative Justice Collective (TJC).

“It’s still not too late to grant mercy to Saridewi Djamani,” Branson posted Thursday on Twitter, which is being rebranded as “X”.

“Shameful that Singapore’s leaders continue to hang people for non-violent drug offences, joining countries like North Korea and Iran that still do so against evidence and better judgement,” the billionaire said.

Djamani was sentenced to death in 2018 for trafficking around 30 grams (1.06 ounces) of heroin.

If her execution goes ahead, she will be the first woman put to death in Singapore since 2004, when 36-year-old hairdresser Yen May Woen was hanged for drug trafficking, according to TJC activist Kokila Annamalai.

Prison officials have not answered emailed questions from AFP seeking confirmation of Djamani’s scheduled execution, but local rights activists said her family had received a notice setting the date.

Rights watchdog Amnesty International has also urged Singapore to halt the hanging, saying there is no evidence the death penalty acts as a deterrent to crime.

The Asian financial hub has some of the world’s toughest anti-narcotics laws and insists the death penalty is effective in discouraging trafficking.

Singapore’s law minister last year challenged Branson to a televised debate in the city-state on the death penalty.

The tycoon declined, saying such a debate “cannot do the complexity of the death penalty any service”.

On Wednesday, Singapore hanged a local man convicted of drug trafficking, the 14th prisoner sent to the gallows since the government resumed executions in March 2022 after a two-year pause during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mohd Aziz bin Hussain, 57, was convicted and sentenced to death in 2017 for trafficking around 50 grams of heroin.


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