The mother and twin brother of convicted drug smuggler Van Nguyen are tonight flying to Singapore to say their final goodbyes. The video should start automatically in a pop up window if you have RealPlayer, and Broadband. If not you can view it below, by clicking on the relevant link.
[An unbearable fate: Khoa Nguyen and his mother Kim Nguyen, supported by a friend, were too upset to speak yesterday as they flew to Singapore to see Nguyen Tuong Van one last time.]
Photo: Jason South
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PM - Monday, 21 November , 2005 18:10:00
Reporter: Daniel Hoare
MARK COLVIN: The twin brother of the convicted Australian drug trafficker, Van Nguyen, has flown to Singapore to bid his brother a last farewell.
Khoa Nguyen flew out of Melbourne this afternoon with his mother Kim.
Van Nguyen is to be hanged in a Singaporean jail in less than a fortnight.
Khoa Nguyen will be reunited with his brother for the first time since Van Nguyen was arrested carrying heroin for a Sydney syndicate to help pay Khoa's debts.
Although the Singapore Government has set December the 2nd as the date for Van Nguyen's execution, his lawyers are still considering a final international legal bid to spare his life.
The Foreign Minister Alexander Downer says the Government is still committed to offering any assistance it can, but he's rejected the use of economic sanctions against Singapore.
Daniel Hoare has this report.
DANIEL HOARE: The time is slipping away for convicted drug trafficker Van Nguyen, with only 11 days left until his scheduled execution in a Singaporean jail. But his legal team have refused to concede that his execution is a fait accompli.
Van Nguyen's lawyer Lex Lasry is stepping up the pressure on the Federal Government, calling for the Prime Minister John Howard to refer the case to the UN's International Court of Justice. And he wants the leaders of the Commonwealth countries to put pressure on Singapore at the Commonwealth heads of government meeting in Malta this week.
But as Van Nguyen's fight for clemency continues here in Australia, his family face the harrowing task of paying him what seems to be a final visit before his scheduled hanging next Friday.
Van's twin brother, Khoa, wracked with guilt over his brother's predicament, flew out of Melbourne this afternoon with his mother Kim.
It was Khoa's financial difficulties which saw Van Nguyen attempt to smuggle nearly 400 grams of heroin through Singapore in 2002.
The Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, says that Lex Lasry's plan to take the case to the International Court of Justice looks unlikely to eventuate.
But he remains open-minded about any new legal avenues. He says the Singaporean Government would have to be convinced of the merits of deferring to the jurisdiction of the International Court.
ALEXANDER DOWNER: My own preliminary view is that it'd be almost impossible to bring a case to the International Court of Justice, because you would have to have Singapore's agreement to do so and the chance of Singapore agreeing to a case being brought to the International Court of Justice are fairly obviously remote given the position they've taken on the execution of Van Nguyen.
But I, to be fair, I did say to Lex Lasry that I'd get my department's legal branch to go through some of the ideas that he put forward and we'll get back to him once we've done that and obviously time is of the essence here, so I hope I'll be able to get back to him in the next day or so.
DANIEL HOARE: Alexander Downer says that bringing the Van Nguyen case to the International Court would be, at best, a long shot.
ALEXANDER DOWNER: My advice is that, given Singapore doesn't accept the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice except in a very narrow range of areas which has got, which are not relevant to Van Nguyen's case, that you would have to get Singapore to agree to a case being brought before the International Court of Justice and that is remote in the extreme.
DANIEL HOARE: Opposition Foreign Affairs Spokesman, Kevin Rudd, says that regardless of the chances of success, the Federal Government is duty-bound to refer the case to the International Court of Justice.
KEVIN RUDD: I've spoken today with Mr Nguyen's lawyers. I've spoken also with international lawyers.
Obviously, there are legal complexities involved in this, but I believe Australia has a moral and legal responsibility to take this action in order to defend Mr Nguyen's interests and to seek to get the Singaporean Government to grant an act of clemency towards Mr Nguyen.
DANIEL HOARE: There's also been calls from some quarters that economic sanctions against Singapore would be the only effective way to convince its government to grant clemency to Van Nguyen.
But the Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, has rejected that approach.
ALEXANDER DOWNER: Imposing economic sanctions would be a classic case of cutting off your nose to spite your face. It would damage Singapore, but it would damage Australia. It would damage our commercial interests and, in doing so, we would make no contribution whatsoever to helping save Van Nguyen, so it would be a lose-lose policy to pursue.
MARK COLVIN: The Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer.