The family of the Malaysian man on death row in Singapore has been barred from visiting him in prison after the convicted drug trafficker tested positive for COVID-19 yesterday, quashing all hopes of a reunion prior to his execution.
The family of Nagaenthran K Dharmalingam, 33, who was originally due to be hanged this morning, will return home to Ipoh today, according to his sister Sarmila, adding that the Singapore Prison Service will only allow communication through phone while the prisoner undergoes quarantine.
“My mother, brother, sister, and cousin are in Singapore but will come home tomorrow,” she said in a statement shared yesterday. “We have been told by the prison that they will not be allowed to visit him anymore, and that we will only be allowed phone calls with him.”
The statement was shared via local activist and journalist Kirsten Han, who has been assisting the family with travel arrangements, including their mandatory 10-day hotel quarantine. The family was previously allowed daily visits to see Nagaenthran, but had not been able to leave their hotel rooms since they began to arrive in Singapore last week.
“I am concerned about my brother Nagen. He has now tested positive for Covid and he will be alone. We are not sure how long he will be quarantined for in prison,” Sarmila added.
Nagaenthran received a further stay on his execution yesterday after he tested positive for COVID-19. He briefly appeared in Singapore’s Court of Appeal, where he was seeking to commute his sentence on the basis of his mental disability. Nagaenthran, who is said to have an IQ of 69, was sentenced to die in 2010 for smuggling a small amount of heroin into Singapore and has been on death row ever since.
Several other inmates and prison staff were also found to have contracted COVID-19, according to the prison service last night. Nagaenthran has chosen not to be vaccinated but has not shown any coronavirus symptoms, it said.