Van Nguyen's faith-filled last moments

Van Tuong Nguyen, the Australian who has been on death row in Singapore and was set to hang at 9:00 am Melbourne time, was thought to have his rosary beads with him, and "genuinely thinks he's going somewhere good", according to his lawyer Lex Lasry QC.

CLICK HEREThe Daily Telegraph reports that he spent his final night praying with a priest before his date with the hangman.

"He loves the 23rd Psalm and that will figure in the last hours," Mr Lasry said yesterday. "He's determined to go out with strength and optimism."

His fortitude in the face of death has been an emotional crutch for his mother Kim, but it was too much as she left the prison following their last moments together.

Hours earlier, Mr Lasry had said the young Australian was not to be shackled when led to his fate.

"He'll walk to the gallows and he'll walk confidently," he said. "He'll have rosary beads and he'll have people with him. He genuinely thinks he's going somewhere good."

Mr Lasry said Nguyen was "frightened, but not overly frightened" of the hanging.

Before the hanging, Nguyen was offered the choice of receiving the Last Rites before or after execution. Either way, the Changi prison's priest will say a prayer and anoint his hands, forehead and feet.

Nguyen renewed his Catholic faith 12 months ago while on death row, and his supporters say it is this spiritual belief which has given him, and them, great courage.

As a child he attended kindergarten and primary school at St Ignatius, Richmond, in Melbourne, where Fr Peter Norden SJ is parish priest.

Fr Norden said the past three years had been a refining experience for Nguyen.

His mother Kim and brother will leave Singapore on Saturday night, after attending a lunchtime church service. It is believed Nguyen's body will return home on the same flight after being collected from Changi prison 90 minutes after the execution.

Meanwhile The Herald-Sun quotes a priest who was with Ryan in his final days, Fr Coleman "Coley" McKenzie, 91, yesterday told the Herald Sun: "It's a morally inadequate way of dealing with things.

"The reason for it is not so much to bring justice, because sentences for life would probably be as effective.

"There's a tendency more, nowadays I think, of taking the easy way out. With Ryan, the main thing was that it did something . . . in that Australia would not have capital punishment again.

"Maybe Nguyen's execution will achieve something. I think public outcry is important.

"Ryan made his peace with God. I think this boy Nguyen has made his peace with God. This is the important issue."

Fr McKenzie said he did not believe the hanging would have a lasting effect on drug trafficking.

"It's certainly not going to affect the people who merchandise the drugs," he said.

Nguyen offers his soul to God (Daily Telegraph 2/12/05)
Memories still hurt Ryan's girl (Herald-Sun 2/12/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Parish of St Ignatius, Richmond
Background - Australian Catholic Students Association

Churches, mosques echo with prayers (CathNews 1/12/05)
Prayer vigils for Van Nguyen (CathNews 30/11/05)
Priest says Australia 'galvanised' against death penalty (CathNews 29/11/05)
Statement from bishops urges compassion for Nguyen (CathNews 28/11/05)
Rome group set to mobilise world against death penalty (CathNews 25/11/05)
Commission urges Catholics act on death penalty (CathNews 23/11/05)
Pell gives details on papal plea for Nguyen (CathNews 21/11/05)
Catholic Students unite to help death row Aussie (CathNews 18/11/05)
Catholics and Buddhists pray to cheat hangman (CathNews 7/11/05)
Centacare Melbourne urges Govt to save Nguyen (CathNews 28/10/05)
Papal intervention for death row drug trafficker (CathNews 25/10/05)

Death penalty sparks global protests (National Nine News/Australian Associated Press 1/12/05)
Supporters gather in dark before dawn (The Age 2/12/05)
Death row visit 'shows irrationality' (The Australian/Australian Associated Press 1/12/05)
Hangman promises good job (The Australian/Australian Associated Press 1/12/05)
Nguyen's funeral next week (The Australian/Australian Associated Press 1/12/05)
A mother's tears, a brother's laughs as Van faces the walk to the gallows (The Australian 2/11/05)
Bells to toll at Nguyen's church (The Australian/Australian Associated Press 1/12/05)

2 Dec 2005