SHOULD HE HANG?



TWEED residents yesterday threw their support behind gallows-bound Australian Nguyen Tuong Van calling hanging a ''barbaric option''.

The Daily News hit the streets to canvass opinion and while no-one condoned the 25-year-old Melbourne man's drug trafficking, very few felt he deserved to die.

Nguyen is scheduled to hang at dawn (Australian time) in Singapore tomorrow.

Yesterday local residents, including politicians, described hanging as barbaric and not the type of punishment dealt out by civilised societies. They were more in favour of life sentences.

Nguyen was arrested at Changi Airport ? next to the prison where he will be hanged ? three years ago carrying almost 400 grams of heroin from Cambodia to Australia.

In Singapore, possession of more than 15gm of heroin is deemed as trafficking and punishable by a mandatory death sentence.

Richmond MP Justine Elliot said she was strongly opposed to capital punishment and urged the Howard Government to continue to pursue all legal options to the end including action in the International Court of Justice.

Tweed MP Neville Newell said he did not believe the Federal Government had done enough to try to save Nguyen while most locals felt Nguyen deserved to punished severely but did not deserve the death penalty.

"It's wrong to hang him,'' said Robert Dodd of South Tweed Heads. ''He should be given a chance to redeem himself.''

"I absolutely do not agree, you should always get another chance,'' said Jesse Volbeda of Pottsville.

In other key developments yesterday:

Singapore's main newspaper claimed ordinary Australians supported the city-state's decision to hang Nguyen. Singapore's prime minister dismissed calls to save Nguyen despite condemnation from international human rights groups.

Singapore authorities were yet to say whether Nguyen's mother would be allowed give him a final hug before his execution.

Sydneysiders gathered for a mass and prayer vigil at St Mary's Catholic Cathedral.

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer described as "pointless" possible work bans against Singapore Airlines by transport workers in protest at the Nguyen's imminent hanging.



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