Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has defended his country's decision to execute convicted Australian drug-runner Van Nguyen this week, saying "drug trafficking is a crime that deserves the death penalty".
Speaking to France's Le Figaro newspaper ahead of a meeting in Paris with French President Jacques Chirac, Mr Lee justified Singapore's position when asked specifically about the case of Van Nguyen.
The 25-year-old Melbourne man of Vietnamese background was arrested at Changi airport three years ago while in transit from Cambodia to Australia with 400 grams of heroin in his possession.
Mr Lee says the death penalty, which is mandatory for the trafficking of significant amounts of drugs in Singapore, "is necessary and is part of the criminal justice system," he says in his interview with the paper.
"We also think that drug trafficking is a crime that deserves the death penalty. The evil inflicted on thousands of people with drug trafficking demands that we must tackle the source by punishing the traffickers rather than trying to pick up the pieces afterwards," he said.
"It's a law which is approved of by Singapore's inhabitants and which allows us to reduce the drug problem."