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'S'pore to use Delhi rape case to defend death penalty'

December 30, 2012 18:34 IST

Singapore on Sunday said it would cite the "heartbreaking case" of the 23-year-old Delhi gangrape victim as an example to reject demands for abolition of death penalty in the city state.

In a Facebook post, Singapore's Minister for Law and Foreign Affairs K Shanmugam said people were "sickened" by the horrific gangrape and her subsequent death.

Describing the attack on the Delhi girl as a "heartbreaking case", Shanmugam said he would often cite cases like these as examples when he discusses with people who want the death penalty in Singapore to be abolished.

"Many would agree that this is a type of case where, if the injuries inflicted were of a nature sufficient to cause death, then the abusers should face the death penalty," he wrote.

The Delhi girl, who has never been named, died at Mount Elizabeth Hospital on Saturday after doctors battled in vain to stabilise her condition.

She was air-dashed from Delhi's Safdarjung Hospital to Singapore on Thursday for further medical treatment.

Meanwhile, Shanmugam's comments sparked hundreds of responses on his Facebook page. Some supported his stance on the death penalty, such as a netizen who went by the name OC Yeo, who said: "The death penalty must remain – otherwise justice cannot be served."

Others, however, said the punishment remains unjustifiable, the Straits Times reported.

A user called Joshua Chiang said the death penalty is "an arcane law that cannot be intellectually justified on any grounds".

In response, Shanmugam, an Indian-origin minister, said he sees the punishment as "a necessary evil".

"Having the death penalty alone is not going to stop violent crimes - it didn't stop this young lady from being grossly violated," he wrote.

Human rights groups have called for the total abolition of capital punishment in Singapore but the government says death sentences for the most serious cases will remain as a deterrent.

In November, the Singapore parliament had passed legal reforms abolishing mandatory death sentences in some drug trafficking and murder cases.

Before the reforms, judges had no choice but to impose the death penalty on anyone convicted of murder or trafficking in drugs above specific volumes.

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