Australian politicians and anti-death penalty campaigners gathered in Canberra early on Friday, as Australian citizen Nguyen Tuong Van was hanged in Singapore for drug trafficking. The 25-year-old of Vietnamese descent was executed despite repeated pleas for clemency from members of the Australian government, including Prime Minister John Howard.
Howard said on Friday: “I hope the message that comes out of this, above everything else, is a message to the young of Australia: Don’t have anything to do with drugs, don’t use them, don’t touch them, don’t carry them, don’t traffic in them.”
Howard has rejected calls for trade and military boycotts against Singapore. Nguyen Tuong Van was hanged at the city-state’s Changi prison just before dawn.
His relatives were allowed to see his body but were kept away from the execution. Before he was killed, his mother could only touch his hand through prison bars. Nguyen was convicted three years ago of carrying nearly 400g of heroin at Singapore airport while travelling from Cambodia to Australia. Lawyers said that in his final hours he was calm and ready to die.