A family photo of Nguyen Tuong Van

24 October 2005 :

Australian Prime Minister John Howard said there was no realistic hope that Nguyen Tuong Van, a 25-year-old Australian drug-runner, could be saved from execution in Singapore. Australian national Nguyen, convicted of trying to smuggle almost 400 grams (14 oz) of heroin through Singapore in 2002, was denied clemency by President S.R. Nathan on October 21 and was up to be executed as early as October 29.
Asked whether there was any hope that the execution would not go ahead, Howard told reporters: "I'm very sorry to say, I don't think there is.
"We have tried everything at a political and diplomatic level. The answer came back on Friday that the execution would go ahead.
"I am very sorry to say that I don't think the prospects of anything changing are realistic."
Nguyen, a sales executive from the southern city of Melbourne who emigrated from Vietnam to Australia as a child, told police he was smuggling the drugs to help pay off a debt owed by his twin brother.
His distressed mother Kim Nguyen pleaded for help to save her son's life after returning to Melbourne after visiting him in Singapore's Changi Prison.
"I'm asking everyone to please help us, please the government of Australia, help us," she told reporters.
"My son, he is a young boy. He is sorry in jail, very sorry, he has learned a lot.
"I know my son is scared about what is going to happen to him, and it hurts my heart."
Howard said that if new evidence or details came to light, then that could be the subject of another appeal.
"But I don't think that's the issue," he said. "He has not contested his guilt and I'm just very sorry to say that the answer from Singapore is 'no'.
"I feel for this man's family. I feel for his mother in particular. She came here from tragic circumstances and it's a terrible thing, but the Singaporeans have always taken a tough line."

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