Australia: family of executed drug smuggler arrives home with his body

The family of an Australian drug smuggler hanged in Singapore arrived home with his body early Sunday.

Nguyen Tuong Van's mother Kim and brother Khoa brought back his body ahead of a funeral Wednesday at the southern city of Melbourne's St. Patrick's Catholic Cathedral.

The family left the airport through a private exit, avoiding groups of supporters and reporters, local media said.

On Saturday, a lawyer who tried to have Nguyen's life spared, urged the Australian government to protest the use of the death penalty in the United States.

Nguyen went to the gallows Friday, the same day that convicted murderer Kenneth Lee Boyd became the 1,000th person put to death in the United States since capital punishment resumed there in 1977.

"Some laws are wrong, and we have an obligation to speak out against those laws wherever they are," lawyer Julian McMahon told Australian Associated Press.

"The Australian community has a reawakened awareness from this case that premeditated state-sanctioned killing is wrong," he said of Nguyen's execution.

"We should not be afraid to speak the truth to our powerful friend the United States," McMahon added.

Nguyen's execution sparked an outcry in Australia. Vigils were held across the country Friday morning and bells rang out 25 times once for every year of his life at the hour of his hanging.

McMahon was scathing in his criticism of Singapore's mandatory death penalty for drug smugglers.

"It is even more legally and morally repugnant when it is mandatory, premeditated state-sanctioned killing," he said.

Still, he praised Nguyen's jailers. "By the time Van died everyone involved in the case knew the prison workers had only been kindly to him and he loved them, to use his words," McMahon said.

He said Nguyen had written many letters in the lead up to his death and lawyers would distribute them this week.

Some of the letters were to "important people" but may contain private thoughts and were not necessarily for public perusal, McMahon said without elaborating, reported AP. P.T.

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