|2nd Dec 2005 Australian
the Singapore Government, despite a huge outcry by Australia and
other countries, executed a 25-year-old Australian on Friday 2nd
December 2005 for drug trafficking.
the deadline for the 25-year-old's execution passed at 9am, the
Melbourne church where Nguyen went to school tolled its bell 25 times -
once for every year of his life.
In Singapore and in cities
across Australia, there were protest vigils to mark the first execution of
an Australian since Michael McAuliffe in Malaysia in 1993.
Forty-five minutes before his
execution, Nguyen's twin brother Khoa arrived alone in a taxi in the
pre-dawn gloom to be close to where his twin was to die.
In another taxi behind him,
close friends of the Melbourne man, Kelly Ng and Bronwyn Lew, arrived with
his lawyer Julian McMahon.
Together they walked into the
prison's visitor centre, where they were to wait for the execution to be
"They want to be as close to
Van at this time as possible," McMahon said.
Nguyen's mother Kim would, at
the time of execution, be praying at a Singapore chapel with well-wishers,
Kim Nguyen and Khoa were
yesterday allowed limited contact with Nguyen during their last visit,
after officials ruled out a final embrace.
They were told they would be
able only to hold hands with Nguyen, but it emerged Kim Nguyen was also
able to touch her son's face and hair.
"There was a grille and they
were able to hold each others hands. Kim was able at least for some time
to touch his face," McMahon said outside Changi Prison this morning.
"She told me she was able to
talk to him and touch his hair.
"That was a great comfort to
"She is obviously incredibly
upset, but she is more prepared than she has been at any time previously."
Nguyen led to the gallows at
precisely 6am today local time.
His lawyers said the
25-year-old would likely carry rosary beads, and walk without shackles
from his cell to stand on the trapdoor of the gallows before his hanging.
It is understood that a hearse
would be sent to Changi Prison to collect his body at about 11am local
time (2pm AEDT).
McMahon said prison
authorities would hold a coronial inquest. A death certificate would be
issued and the body would be identified by Australian High Commission
"The body will taken and
prepared for burial in Australia," said McMahon.
As the time for execution came
and went, there were emotional scenes outside the prison.
A small group of Singapore
activists gathered, holding photos of Nguyen and chanting Indian
Human rights lawyer M. Ravi
said: "What do we get out of this? What do we get out of this murder?"
He was accompanied by the
distraught family of Shanmugam Murugesu, the Singapore drug trafficker who
was hanged last May and who had become a friend of Nguyen.
Shanmugam's mother, Letchumi,
wailed: "Who is going to help me?"
Earlier, in a cafe nearby,
other Singaporean opponents of the death penalty also held a protest
The newly-formed Singapore
Anti-Death Penalty Committee said in a statement they "utterly deplore and
condemn" the hanging of Nguyen, as an "inhumane and barbaric punishment
disproportionate to his crime".
Members of the group,
including artists and professionals, gathered at a 24-hour sidewalk cafe
near Changi Prison, lighting a candle atop an outdoor table on which
pictures of Nguyen and messages of sympathy were displayed.
Candles were also left at the
gates of the prison, where foreign and local journalists camped out next
to a television transmission dish.
The vigil was held after
Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said there would be no pardon
for Nguyen, caught three years ago at Changi Airport carrying nearly 400
grams of heroin while in transit from Cambodia to Australia.
Candelight and prayer vigils
were also held in major Australian cities to mark Nguyen's death and to
protest against the death penalty.
In Melbourne, the bells of St
Ignatius Catholic Church, Richmond - where Nguyen went to school as a
child - rang 25 times to mark every year of his life.
Hundreds of supporters
gathered at the church, including former Iraqi hostage Douglas Wood, who
twice entered the church before driving away.
Also in Melbourne, more than a
hundred lawyers gathered on the steps of Melbourne's County Court to
observe a minute's silence.
Supporters of Nguyen gathered
outside Singapore High Commission in Canberra, carrying banners reading
"Singapore, how could you?", "Thou shalt not kill", and "The bell tolls
and we are all diminished".
In Sydney, a vigil was under
way in Sydney's Martin Place.
Nguyen's body will be returned
to Melbourne at the weekend ahead of his funeral, expected next
reported by AAP
Amnesty International condemns cruel
and senseless killing of Van Tuong Nguyen
Amnesty International condemns
the execution of Van Tuong Nguyen in Singapore this
“Today is an extremely sad day
for his family, who are now victims of this horrendous punishment,” said
Tim Goodwin, Amnesty International’s Anti-Death Penalty
“It is a particularly cruel
twist that this execution will not protect Singapore against the drug
trade. In capital cities and regional centres across the nation, thousands
of people this morning paused to acknowledge the tragic killing of this
“They were united in their
grief for Van Nguyen’s family and their determination to fight harder than
ever to abolish the death penalty wherever it is used and whatever the
nationality of those facing execution.”
Australia extends its deepest sympathy to the Nguyen family and pledged to
continue its fight for a world without executions. Amnesty International
also paid tribute to the Australian legal team, Lex Lasry QC and Julian
McMahon who fought so hard to save the life of Van.
“Sadly all efforts across all
sectors of the Australian community were defeated by the cruelty of
Singapore’s mandatory death penalty laws. Amnesty International thanks the
people of Australia who stood with us in solidarity – through writing the
tens of thousands of appeal letters, tracing their hands and writing
messages of support and attending events and vigils across the nation.”
“These efforts, which were
joined by hundreds of thousands of people around the world have served to
strengthen the global campaign to end the death penalty in all its forms
and has given courage to those in Singapore who are taking great risks to
speak out against their country’s inhuman and ineffective punishment.
Australia today reaffirmed its call on the Australian Government to take a
clear, consistent and principled stand against the death penalty and to
exercise leadership on the regional and international stage.
“Australia’s wavering stance
on the death penalty in recent times has undermined Australia’s
credibility and ability to argue for clemency for Van Tuong Nguyen, “ said
encourages all Australians who wish to voice their opposition to Van’s
execution to write letters of appeal to the Singapore High Commissioner
and to join the human rights organisation’s Anti-Death Penalty Network.
For more information:
www.amnesty.org.au To arrange interviews with Tim Goodwin, Amnesty
International’s Anti-Death Penalty Network Coordinator please contact
Karen Trentini on 0422 869