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Nguyen Tuong Van
Letter to DFAT
Mr. Bruce Billson MP Parliamentary Secretary
DFAT
22 Oct 05
RE: Aussie facing death sentence in Singapore

Dear Mr. Billson,

    I am absolutely devastated upon hearing the news that Singapore's President S.R. Nathan has refused to grant clemency to Tuong Van Nguyen and that he is facing execution within a fortnight. I have followed this case from the very beginning as you know, and have always hoped that his life could be spared in order for him to seek an opportunity to redeem himself. That it is Tuong's first and only criminal offence, whilst not excusable, is indeed a tragedy that he will be punished so harshly.

    I know that Mr. Downer and your office would have exhausted all avenues for appeal, as has Prime Minister Howard and even the late Pope. I can only hope now that mercy might be shown by the President and the Singaporean authorities at the eleventh hour, if only to spare Tuong's mother a lifetime of pain and suffering. As a mother myself, I am very sorry for what she is going through and I pray that she will somehow find peace and strength to endure. If you are able to pass on my concerns to her then I would be grateful. I sincerely wish that there was something more that could be done.

    Thank you again for your consideration and I will continue to hope in earnest that our Prime Minister's appeals in this matter might again be considered by the President of Singapore.

    Kind regards,

    Kay Danes

Campaign for Tuong Van Nguyen
Aussie set to hang for drug
Gerard McManus and Norrie Ross 22oct05

MELBOURNE man Tuong Van Nguyen, 25, faces death by hanging within a fortnight after Singapore's President S.R. Nathan refused to grant him clemency.

Unless a last-minute reprieve is granted, Nguyen will become the first Australian since 1993 to be executed overseas.

Australian government officials told Van Nguyen's mother, Nguyen Kim, the grim news yesterday.

She was in the care of the Australian High Commission in Singapore yesterday.

Julian McMahon, a member of Nguyen's legal team, said his client's family were trying to come to terms with the decision.

Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer yesterday conceded there was virtually no hope for the former refugee.

"We have done our best, we have done everything we can to save his life," Mr Downer said.

Nguyen had no previous criminal convictions, but was found guilty of trying to smuggle almost 400g of heroin out of Singapore in December 2002.

He had been to Cambodia and was in transit in Singapore waiting to board a Qantas flight back to Australia when he was caught with two packets of heroin: one strapped to his back, the other in his backpack.

The heroin was an attempt to pay debts owed by his twin brother to a Sydney drug syndicate.

Lex Lasry QC, who leads Nguyen's Melbourne legal team, was shattered.

"Death by hanging is hideous," Mr Lasry said.

"It is grossly out of proportion to the crime."

Mr Lasry said Nguyen admitted his guilt and had helped authorities, including the federal police.

"The only people who will take comfort from this result will be those who exploited Van Nguyen for their own purposes to profit from drug trafficking, and who now know that with the death of our client their criminal conspiracy will go unpunished," he said.

Labor's foreign affairs spokesman Kevin Rudd said Nguyen's situation was "a truly tragic case".

"Our hearts go out to this young Australian and his poor mother," Mr Rudd said.

"We call on the Singaporean Cabinet to reconsider its decision."

Australian officials have avoided publicity in the case, hoping behind-the-scenes efforts might sway Singapore's Government.

But pleas from Prime Minister John Howard, Governor-General Michael Jeffery and the late Pope all failed.

The Bracks Government gave cautious support for Nguyen yesterday.

"This is a tragic situation. Victoria opposes the death penalty but recognises that other countries have the right to impose their laws in their country," a spokeswoman said.

Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart called on Singapore to spare Nguyen.

Brian Walters, SC, president of Liberty Victoria, called on the Federal Government to use all its powers to save Nguyen and called on Singapore to commute the sentence to life.

In 1993, Michael McAuliffe was executed in Singapore, and in 1986 Kevin Barlow and Brian Chambers were hanged in Malaysia.

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