1581: Edmund Campion, Ralph Sherwin and Alexander Briant 1952: Rudolf Slansky and 10 “conspirators”

2005: Van Tuong Nguyen

December 2nd, 2007 Headsman

On this date in 2005, Australian national Van Tuong Nguyen was hanged* in Singapore’s Changi Prison for smuggling heroin.

Three years before, in dire financial straits, Nguyen had agreed to act as a drug courier and been caught attempting to carry 396.2 grams — less than a pound — of heroin through the airport of the notoriously execution-happy city-state. He had no criminal history and cooperated with the authorities, but the quantity of contraband on his person incurred an automatic death sentence.

Nguyen became an international cause celebre and the Australian government appealed for clemency — though some detected tepid public notice for the young man of Vietnamese extraction in comparison with white Australians in similar situations.

His family’s two-year campaign mobilizing worldwide pressure to save him was the profile of a 2006 documentary that laid bare the continuing grief left to Nguyen’s family and friends … and their continuing work against the death penalty in his remembrance. This personal tribute of unidentified provenance captures both:

* By Darshan Singh, whose identity as Singapore’s hangman was exposed on the occasion.

Also on this date

Entry Filed under: 21st Century,Australia,Capital Punishment,Common Criminals,Crime,Death Penalty,Drugs,Execution,Hanged,Ripped from the Headlines,Singapore

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3 thoughts on “2005: Van Tuong Nguyen”

  1. John Killick says:

    ‘Dire financial straits’ maybe, but it’s no secret that Singapore hangs drug smugglers. I really can’t understand the mindset of a person putting their life at stake like Nguyen did: Even robbing a bank would have been smarter (Though still extremely unwise).

    As I understand it, Singapore society is still heavily influenced by Confucianism, and this philosophical system places great emphasis on ibedience to authority and takes a very dim view of crime generally, but particularly crimes perceived to disrupt social order (like illegal drug use/sale). Confucianists see nothing wrong with the death penalty.

    I do feel sorry for his folks though, and I admire them for campaigning against the death penalty: If you want clemency for Ayssies, you should want clemency for ALL PEOPLE.: Aussies have to try hard to get hanged in a foreign country, the locals live with this possibility.

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