Fri May 13, 2005 12:30 AM ET
SINGAPORE (Reuters) - A Singaporean drug trafficker was hanged on Friday after his teenaged sons failed in a last-ditch bid to stop the execution, his lawyer said.
Shanmugam Murugesu, 38, was put to death by hanging at 0600 (2200 GMT) in Changi prison.
"The casket company is already at the prison preparing to take his body home for the funeral," his lawyer M. Ravi told Reuters.
Shanmugam was arrested at the Malaysian border in August 2003 with 1.03 kg (2.27 lb) of cannabis and lost an appeal against a conviction for drug trafficking. His clemency bid was rejected by Singapore's President S.R. Nathan last month.
The case has stoked controversy and put the spotlight on the high execution rate in Singapore, which enforces some of the world's toughest drug laws.
Anyone aged 18 or over convicted of carrying more than 500 grams (17.6 ounces) of cannabis faces mandatory execution by hanging.
In the past weeks, local groups had campaigned for Shanmugam, organising performances, forums and vigils in a rare display of activism for Singapore.
His twin 14-year-old sons, Gopalan and Krishnan Murugesu, had handed out hundreds of flyers in shopping districts to seek public support to stop Friday's execution.
In its 2004 report, rights group Amnesty International said about 400 people had been hanged in Singapore since 1991, mostly for drug trafficking, giving the wealthy city-state of 4.2 million people possibly the highest execution rate in the world relative to its population.
Amnesty said only six people sentenced to death in Singapore had been spared execution.
Singapore has defended its use of the death penalty and maintained that capital punishment has deterred major drug syndicates from establishing themselves in Singapore.
500 grams of cannabis = A human life. "Making Singapore Unique?"