November 8, 2005 - 7:04PM
Singapore activists have tried and failed to deliver a bundle of messages of support to Australian drug trafficker Nguyen Tuong Van as he sits on Singapore's death row.
Human rights lawyer M Ravi said police at Changi Prison, where Nguyen is being held with just days before his execution, had blocked the delivery on two occasions to take the letters.
"They refused to take them," said Ravi, who is not Nguyen's counsel but has crusaded in the city-state on behalf of the former Melbourne salesman.
"I am absolutely disgusted and outraged as a citizen of this country," Ravi told AAP. "It is very, very painful for us at the moment."
No comment was immediately available from the police or the prison authorities.
Nguyen, 25, was arrested at Singapore's Changi airport while in transit from Cambodia to Australia in December 2002.
He was sentenced to death in March 2004 for carrying almost 400 grams of heroin. Calls for clemency from Australia have failed to change Singapore's mind.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer plans to make a last ditch plea to save Nguyen's life when he meets his Singaporean counterpart George Yeo at the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) meeting next week.
"We've put an enormous amount of effort into trying to save Van Nguyen's life, I've said all along ... that I was very pessimistic that we would be able to turn this around," he said.
Mr Yeo wrote to Mr Downer last week, rejecting the government's most recent appeal for clemency for Nguyen.
"I'll be meeting with him again next week in South Korea and will raise it with him once more when I meet him in South Korea," Mr Downer said.
The 80-or-so letters of support for Nguyen were gathered at a rare protest held at which speakers urged that his life be spared, and the city-state halt all executions.
The bundle included an emotional note from the mother of a man hanged in Singapore in May in which she described Nguyen as being "like her son".
Letchumi Murugesu said her son Shanmugam, who was executed for importing more than a kilogram of cannabis, knew Nguyen in prison.
"My son has told me about you before he died," she said in her one-page handwritten message, which also contained an outline of her hand.
"Shanmugam told me to save you, even if he is to die."
Ravi, who represented Shanmugam, said he is appealing for help from the United Nations to halt the execution.
He said he is sending an urgent note to Philip Alston, an Australian who is the UN's Geneva-based special rapporteur on extra-judicial, summary, or arbitrary executions.
By tradition Singapore executes death row inmates on Fridays at dawn.
Activists say that Nguyen is likely to die this Friday or November 18.
So far there has been no confirmation yet of a date from his family or legal team.