A 59-YEAR-old Dutchman was hanged at Singapore's Changi prison this

morning, a Dutch embassy spokeswoman said.

Johannes van Damme was the first Westerner executed by the city-state

for violating its tough anti-drug laws. Van Damme, convicted of heroin

trafficking, went to the gallows after last-ditch legal and diplomatic

appeals to win a stay were rejected by Singapore authorities.

Singapore prisons officials had informed the embassy of the execution,

aide D J. Koekkoek said.

Van Damme was hanged in the pre-dawn hours here. Reporters outside the

prison described the scene as quiet on a windless morning marked by a

smoky haze.

The Dutch Foreign Ministry announced hours earlier that Singapore

authorities had rejected a last-ditch legal appeal by van Damme's

lawyers, and then a final diplomatic appeal for clemency.

The Dutch engineer was arrested at Singapore airport in September

1991, with 4.32 kg of heroin in his suitcase. Drug trafficking is a

capital offence in Singapore.

In The Hague the Dutch Government said it felt horror and

disappointment at the hanging.

''The Government feels horror and disappointment that we did not

succeed in preventing the execution of the death sentence,'' Foreign

Minister Hans van Mierlo told Dutch television.

Van Mierlo said the Government in The Hague had done everything in its

power to stop the execution. ''I do not think there is anything we could

have done to prevent this,'' he said.

The Dutch Foreign Ministry confirmed earlier this week that Van Damme

gave information on a Nigerian oil fraud racket to Dutch police

intelligence. It said it was possible the Nigerian gang found out about

his informant activities and set him up.

A legal plea for clemency in July and a letter from Queen Beatrix of

the Netherlands to Singapore President Ong Teong Cheong were both


Dutch social worker Guus van Bladel accompanied the engineer's

Nigerian wife, Eliana, on two visits to the prison.

Van Damme's wife was reunited with her husband on Wednesday for the

first time in several years.--Reuter