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"Whatever we do, he is gone forever. Nothing will ever bring him back," Sharan, nephew of Tangarajan Suppiah, an Indian-origin man executed by the Singapore government after a conviction for trafficking a kilo of cannabis, told The Quint.
The 46-year-old had his capital sentence carried out by hanging on Wednesday, 26 April at Changi Prison Complex, and the execution was carried out after President Halimah Yacob rejected pleas for clemency on the eve of the execution. However, it is alleged that the case is rife with procedural lapses, loopholes and possible international statute violations in the execution.
Tangaraju Suppiah's family had long campaigned for his re-sentencing, gathering support from the likes of Richard Branson, the UNHRC, Amnesty, several activists, notable politicians and international organisations.
During a conversation on the phone, Sharan told The Quint, "We don't have anything left to say, we are so broken, and we cannot deal with his passing."
Choking up, he told The Quint:
"The government has no right to take any human life. Now, even if we want to do something, it will not help. We are all still processing and we still cannot digest any of this."
Tangaraju's family members had made countless appeals for mercy from the Singapore government and said, "There are so many unanswered questions, how can you call this justice? All we asked for is that his life is spared, but no mercy was shown."
According to Tangaraju's sister, he turned down a plea bargain because he believed he could prove his innocence in court since he was not caught in possession of the drugs seized, didn't pay or receive money for it, and claimed that there was no evidence that he placed an order for it.
However, he was sentenced to death in 2019, five years after his arrest in the case.
Speaking to The Quint, Tangaraju's niece Shubhashini said, "I think there is no point in talking about his execution. My uncle asked me not to, he didn't want to be remembered like this."
She laid emphasis on a key gap within Tangaraju's case, where a decision was made based on statements recorded by police officials during an interrogation, where it is alleged that neither a lawyer nor a Tamil interpreter, as he requested, were present.
Singapore has constantly reiterated its "zero-tolerance stance" and multi-pronged approach to tackle drug abuse and called the death penalty an "essential component of Singapore's criminal justice system."
However, Subhashini revealed to The Quint that it was Tangaraju's wish that his execution be the last in Singapore's history.
Subhashini added, "Even though he didn't take the blame, he was punished. All he told me was that he hopes to be the last person to die like this. He mentioned that he must be the last person to be hung."
During multiple phone calls with The Quint, the grieving family prayed for peace and expressed both their exhaustion and their desire to fight for justice.
"After this, we will protest. We will voice our concerns and opinions about the death penalty in Singapore. The government cannot kill anyone," Subhashini told The Quint.
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