Skip to comments.A mother's tears, a brother's laughs as Van faces the walk to the gallows
Posted on 12/01/2005 2:22:35 PM PST by naturalman1975
IT was his last wish: to walk unshackled and confidently, rosary beads hidden in his grip, to the gallows.
After a day of tears and goodbyes, and a night of prayer, Australian drug-trafficker Nguyen Tuong Van had accepted his fate and was ready to be hanged at 6am (9am AEST) today in Singapore's Changi prison.
The former Melbourne salesman, 25, was said yesterday to be frightened by the method of his death but comforted by his newfound Christian faith in going to "somewhere good".
It was the final farewell to mother Kim and twin brother, Khoa, that was to dominate the last of his daylight hours yesterday.
A veiled Mrs Nguyen arrived just after 12.30pm for her scheduled visit. Wiping tears from her face, she slowly entered the visitors' centre, where Khoa was waiting for her.
They emerged together six hours later, after a rare expression of compassion from the Singapore Government. Prompted by a personal plea from John Howard to his Singaporean counterpart, Lee Hsien Loong, authorities lifted a ban on the pair holding hands with the condemned 25-year-old.
Leaving the jail, Mrs Nguyen was so distressed she was barely able to walk. She was supported by lawyer Julian McMahon and High Commission staff member Annette Morris, who also comforted Van's friends from Melbourne, Kelly Ng and Bronwyn Lew.
While they shared Mrs Nguyen's anguish, Khoa was seen laughing and joking with an unidentified friend as he waited in the visitors' centre after his final meeting with Van. Van claims he was forced to courier heroin by loan sharks to whom Khoa owed money.
Leaving the prison before his mother, Khoa remained expressionless.
The contact visit came as Australian lawyer Brian Walters SC used an unexpected legal manoeuvre in a last-ditch attempt to save Van from the gallows.
Mr Walters privately charged Van in Melbourne Magistrates Court with drug offences, which he said could allow the federal Government to seek Van's extradition from Singapore to Australia.
But Justice Minister Chris Ellison immediately ruled out extradition proceedings.
In Singapore, Van's Australian lawyer, Lex Lasry QC, said Mrs Nguyen was "fluctuating" emotionally despite her wish to be strong for her son. "She is very distressed but she will get there," he said after visiting his client of three years. "This is a mother who loves her son."
Mr Lasry said Khoa was yesterday "feeling solitary".
"I think it must be terribly difficult for him ... the wrench involved in the death of his brother will be amazing."
Van was arrested in December 2002 at Changi airport, carrying 396g of heroin strapped to his body and in his luggage. He was in transit from Cambodia to Melbourne. Under Singapore law, anyone convicted of trafficking more than 15g of heroin faces a mandatory death sentence.
According to a police interview released last night, Van admitted planing to import heroin to Melbourne. The interview, of which a transcript was supplied by federal police to Van's Melbourne-based lawyer Peter Vickery and released by the office of Australian Greens senator Kerry Nettle, was conducted between Van and federal agent Matthew Heather in Changi prison on January 26.
In a long series of questions, a nervous Van said he was first asked by a man named Alan to scout for couriers to import heroin. When several pulled out, Van set off for Southeast Asia.
Van said at one stage he was introduced to a man he was led to believe was a Qantas steward who would take the drugs from him during the flight. For the trip, he was given $15,000 in $100 notes.
In Cambodia, he said a contact named Anh supplied two blocks of heroin. "At that point, I didn't expect to be caught in ... in Singapore," he said, adding that he didn't expect a long stopover.
Mr Lasry said his client had never expressed any anger towards authorities. He had displayed "remarkable courage" and was intent on comforting his friends and family, although his laughter had disappeared as the hours trickled away.
Van's body is expected to be flown home with his family late tomorrow night.
A country that takes the war on drugs seriously. I'm guessing that it works.
"When I was just a baby
"My mama told me 'Son,
"Always be a good boy,
"Don't ever play with drugs,'
"But I'm stuck in Changi Prison,
"Tomorrow I'm bound to die,
"When I hear those jet planes whinin',
"I hang my head and cry."
I'm sad for his family, and I hope that he met the Lord with a truly repentant soul.
I've traveled five times to India in the last five years. In so doing, I've had stopovers in Taipei (Taiwan) and Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia). In both airports, there are large, clearly marked signs that say "Drug Trafficking is Punishable By Death."
have you seen walk the line? I thought it was great-- and ITA with your tagline. :)
Not yet. It does look good, though.
Never cared much for Joaquin Phoenix (wasn't he in a movie about drugs, the far east, and a date with the hangman?) - but I hear he did okay doin'- Hello, I'm Johnny Cash.
Yeah, too bad we don't have the courage to execute people that sell alcohol and tobacco or any other harmful substance. Sell my kid a fatty hamburger? You're getting a gun to the face.
He sounds great as Johnny Cash- he does a great job- I loved him as Commodus in Gladiator :) I've seen WTL twice already and I'll probably see it again.
Sounds like a drug warrior's paradise.
I am delighted Nguyen found his Christian faith before he was hanged. Sometimes God has to use extreme measures to bring a soul into saving faith. As Jesus noted, often you have to give everything away, including an eye, or your hand, to get there. May God strengthen Nguyen's steps, for he has to pay for the crime he committed.
He did what he did, but that's a sad commentary on the brother, and it is doubly sad if Van is about to lose his life for breaking the law in order to save his brother's sorry hide.
yea, "return to paradise" i think
i think he's a really good actor in everything i have ever seen him in
did you enjoy signs and the village?sorry about the lowercase,giving thing two a bottle. :)
"Sounds like a drug warrior's paradise."
Which is ironic because they have quite a drug sub-culture there, as they do just about anywhere.
Van's the lucky one - Khoa, the bum, is going to be eaten up with the guilt for the rest of his sorry days....
This guy needs to call Governor Arnold ASAP.
Van is almost a Christ figure, a hero in this scenario...
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.