Singapore sentences Australian to death for heroin trafficking

Singapore's representative in Australia defended his government's refusal to spare an Australian sentenced to death for heroin trafficking, saying the country treats foreigners the same as Singaporeans.

Australia's government and lawyers for Nguyen Tuong Van, 25, a former salesman from Melbourne, have vowed to keep trying to save him from hanging despite the Singapore government's rejection last week of a final clemency plea.

But Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said the statement by Singapore's High Commissioner in Canberra, Joseph Koh, suggested that the decision was final.

Koh issued a statement Thursday noting that Van was caught with more than 26 times the amount of 15 grams of heroin - an amount that draws a mandatory death penalty.

Van "was given a fair hearing throughout the legal process and his appeal for clemency was carefully considered," Koh's statement said.

"Not everyone may agree with our view, but I hope they will understand Singapore's position," the AP quoted Koh as saying.