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...
He knew what the score was if he got caught.
He rolled the die and lost.
Now he pays.
Don't want to get hung for smuggleing dope?
Don't smuggle dope.
Even I can figure that out.
The death penalty for drugs.
If only we had been serious about keeping drugs out here in the U.S. instead of being "oh so compasionate", how many lives would have been saved?
"Van was arrested in December 2002 at Changi airport, carrying 396g of heroin strapped to his body..."
If ya can't do the time...............
"The death penalty for drugs.
Perhaps you'd have a different outlook if your son / daughter died of a herion overdose.
This guy dealt in misery.
Let me help you with that. It's the death penalty for trafficking in more than 15 grams of heroin. Nguyen was trafficking in more than 26 times that amount in uncut heroin, enough to destroy the lives of thousands of young people in his adoptive country of Australia -- a country that took him and his family in when they sought to escape a life of misery in their native country. He was willing to sacrifice those people to save his repeat offender brother, a brother who laughed and joked on the day of Nguyen's execution.
For those who simply abuse drugs in Singapore, there are a variety of diversion programs, as well as prison sentences. Sometimes Singapore is, IMO, far too lenient here.
Let's keep this in perspective, shall we?
IF you make it through customs..
Not to worry...it's never happened, and I've never had a problem getting through customs. My point was that when I visited those two countries, there was no doubt left (either in print or over the loudspeaker) that drug trafficking was punishable by death. From what I understand, this guy had the stuff strapped to him.
No, I would not have a different outlook were my child to die of a heroin overdose, because were that to happen, it would be because my child chose to take heroin. That's a stupid thing, and a death from it would be tragic.
However, that does not change the reality, as I see it, that the death penalty is a disproportionate punishment for anything other than pre-meditated murder, and that even in that case, in the modern world it is not truly necessary.
Putting people to death for murder, even, in the modern world is at the limits of propriety. Putting anybody to death for anything short of that is barbarism, plain and simple.
"Let's keep this in perspective, shall we?"
We're talking about putting a man to death here.
That's barely tolerable in cases of really heinous murder where guilt is certain beyond a reasonable doubt. It's frank barbarism for anything else.
General Washington hanged men for mutiny and for espionage. Was he therefore "barbaric"?
And what about those who profit wholesale from dangling the poison of life-destroying addictive drugs in front of confused and impressionable young people? I suppose you wouldn't consider that barbaric.
When Julius and Ethel R. handed off our nuclear secrets to the soviets, they handed them the means to murder every last one of us. That may not be "barbaric" enough for you, but in my view, it qualified them both for the death penalty.
Drug prohibition works about as well as gun prohibition.
The result is the exact opposite of the desired result.
No, I'm not a better person.
I am an obedient Catholic.
One of the difficult doctrines of my church is opposition to the death penalty.
The death penalty is easy.
I prefer sentences to slavery at hard labor for all criminal activities of whatever sort.
This both preserves life and does good.
Work as penitence.
"What you call "barely tolerable" or "barbaric" is not only approved but required by God Himself in Genesis 9:6. He not only requires it for murder but requires that murder penalty for all the generations. That means us."
No, it does not.
If you want to dispute the validity of God's Word, that's your option. But the meaning of God's covenant with Noah is plain. The entire covenant applies to all the generations of man.
And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations [Gen 9:12]
I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. [Gen 9:13]
And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. [Gen 9:15]
And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth. [9:16]
And God said unto Noah, This is the token of the covenant, which I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth. [Gen 9:17]
In five successive verses, God makes it clear that the terms of the Noahic covenant apply to all of us for all time.