Australian's hangman fired over publicity

Nov. 28, 2005 at 3:20 AM
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SINGAPORE, Nov. 28 (UPI) -- A young Australian sentenced to death for smuggling drugs may have a stay of execution after Singapore's only hangman was fired.

Van Tuong Nguyen, 25, was scheduled to be hanged Dec. 2 for carrying 396 grams of heroin through Singapore airport in 2002. However, executioner Darsan Singh has told reporters that he was relieved of his duties after his identity and photograph were published last month in The Australian.

Singapore authorities may have to import a foreign executioner, The Times Online reported Monday.

Singh, 74, is said to have carried out more than 850 hangings in 46 years of his job and is reportedly glad to retire.

Nguyen's death sentence has angered many Australians. Nguyen is a first-time offender who was carrying heroin from Cambodia to Australia via Singapore to try to pay the debts of his twin brother.

At the Nov. 25 to 27 meeting of Commonwealth heads of government in Malta, Australian Prime Minister made a fifth unsuccessful plea for clemency to Singaporean leader Lee Hsien Loong.

The president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions has said that Australia might impose trade sanctions against Singapore.

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