Singapore to execute Australian heroin smuggler

Singapore will execute an Australian heroin smuggler on Dec. 2, his lawyer said Thursday, citing a letter from the Southeast Asian city-state's government. The decision comes despite clemency pleas from Australia. Singapore's government sent the letter to the mother of 25-year-old Nguyen Tuong Van, said lawyer Lex Lasry.

She will be allowed to visit her son in the three days before his execution, Lasry said. Singapore uses hanging for executions.

The Vietnam-born Australian was arrested at Singapore's Changi Airport in 2002 while flying from Cambodia to the southern Australian city of Melbourne with 396 grams (14 ounces) of heroin strapped to his back and in his luggage.

Australia has unsuccessfully lobbied Singapore for clemency in efforts that included Prime Minister John Howard meeting his Singapore counterpart Lee Hsien Loong on Thursday in Busan, South Korea, on the sidelines of a meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.

Australia's Foreign Minister Alexander Downer also met his Singaporean counterpart George Yeo Monday to plead for the man's life.

Downer said he was pessimistic about the convicted man's fate. Yeo had explained Singapore's decision and said his government had considered Australia's plea, Downer told reporters.

"But in the end he said that the decision of the Singapore Cabinet has been made, the decision of the president has been made and those decisions are irreversible," Downer said.

In a 2004 report, London-based human rights group Amnesty International claimed Singapore has the world's highest per capita execution rate, outstripping countries like China and Saudi Arabia, reports the AP. I.L.

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