SINGAPORE (AFP) - A Malaysian murder convict was hanged in Singapore Friday, police said, hours after the city-state’s highest court rejected a final bid for him to escape the gallows, sparking condemnation from rights groups.
"A 32-year-old male Malaysian national, Jabing Kho had his death sentence carried out on 20 May 2016 at Changi Prison Complex," the Singapore Police Force said in a statement.
Kho, who was sentenced to death in 2010 for the murder of a Chinese construction worker, had been due to hang in Changi Prison at dawn Friday, but was granted a brief last-minute reprieve after his lawyer filed a challenge before midnight.
The Court of Appeal heard the latest plea Friday morning but said it raised no new arguments about the 2008 robbery gone wrong, clearing the way for the execution.
"This case has been about many things but today, it’s about the abuse of the process of the court," said Court of Appeal Judge Chao Hick Tin.
Allowing Kho to continue with legal challenges would throw the judicial system "into disrepute," he added.
Singapore, one of Asia’s safest cities, takes a strong stand against crime and imposes the death penalty on offences such as murder and drug trafficking.
But human rights groups, which have called on Singapore to abolish capital punishment, condemned the execution.
Josef Benedict, deputy director at Amnesty International’s South East Asia and Pacific regional office, slammed the execution as "disgraceful" particularly as it was carried out so quickly after his final appeal was denied.
"Singapore is completely out of step with their position on the death penalty," said Human Rights Watch deputy Asia director Phil Robertson.
"There’s no proof that executions prevent crime," Robertson told AFP.
After Kho was sentenced to death in 2010, Singapore amended its mandatory death penalty for murder, giving judges the discretion to impose life imprisonment under certain circumstances.
Kho’s case was reviewed and he was re-sentenced to a life term in 2013. But state prosecutors appealed that ruling and his death sentence was reinstated in January 2015.
He was scheduled for execution on November 6 last year but another last-minute appeal saved him.
Singapore’s president has rejected appeals to grant clemency to Kho.
Kho’s accomplice in the crime had his conviction for murder reduced to a lesser charge and got more than 18 years in prison and 19 strokes of the cane.
Singapore executed four people in 2015, one for murder and three for drug offences, according to prison statistics.
Malaysia also uses capital punishment, executing murderers and drug traffickers by hanging, a system which, like that in Singapore, dates back to British colonial rule.