By Crikey reporter Lucy Morieson

In the end, it went ahead just as Singapore’s government had insisted it would: “Nguyen Tuong Van went to the gallows this morning amid silent protests in Australia and a vigil by his twin brother at Singapore’s Changi Prison,” The Sydney Morning Herald’s website reported at 9am this morning. The Australian drug trafficker was hanged at 6am local time (9am AEDT) after the Singapore government ruled out any last-minute reprieve.

More than 500 supporters gathered at the St Ignatius Church in Melbourne’s Richmond this morning, reports The Age, and it was standing room only by the time the bell tolled 25 times at 9am, signifying “25 years of a life taken too soon.” In Singapore, a mass is expected to be held at the Church of the Good Shepherd from 1pm. It’s believed Nguyen’s casket will arrive before 2.30pm, when the mass proper will begin.

Before dawn at Changi prison this morning, Nguyen’s brother Khoa arrived alone in a taxi, followed by close friends Kelly Ng and Bronwyn Lew, and his lawyer Julian McMahon, reports The Daily Tele. Mother Kim was supported by family and friends – and Lex Lasry QC – in private. And the efforts of Lasry and McMahon were honoured by Melbourne’s legal community, as hundreds of lawyers gathered outside the County Court, several wiping away tears as they marked a minute’s silence. And in Sydney, silence descended on Martin Place as men and women sobbed and hugged each other as a gong was struck 25 times to mark each year of Nguyen’s life.

A rare group of Singaporean protestors gathered outside Changi prison at the time of Nguyen’s hanging, have told The Age of their grief. Jacob George, the spokesman for Singapore’s only publicly identified anti-death penalty group, said: “Some of my colleagues were in tears, naturally. It was bearing down on us, it was very emotional.” The group’s 12 members spent the night in a cafe near the prison, leaving intermittently in small groups to place candles outside the prison walls.

In Singapore’s press, the restrained reaction included a Straits Times report on the local government’s decision to allow Nguyen’s mother Kim and brother Khoa to touch Nguyen for the last time. But the Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs have stressed that the decision to allow limited contact between a Perspex screen was an “exception.”

The paper also reprinted an editorial from Malaysia’s New Straits Times today, pre-empting Nguyen’s hanging and saying that, “judging from the strident tones of the Australian critics of the death sentence, however, the hue and cry over the execution is not going to die down shortly.” But the Singapore Straits Times also picks up on the latest Morgan Poll – billed as “one of the country’s best-known polling agencies” – that 47% of respondents believed the execution should be carried out. It also ran this conveniently pro-Singapore line: “The majority who felt the death sentence should apply to Australians convicted overseas apparently had two main reasons: the misery caused by the drugs trade and the fact that other countries’ legal sovereignty should be respected.”

There was some early local reaction to be found on Singapore-based blogs. At Omeka Na Huria, a Singaporean blogger marks Nguyen’s execution with a comprehensive wrap of the Australian media’s coverage, and one visitor to the site comments that “Van is a very brave man and I hope that religion helps him in these last hours.” And at Diary of a Lucky Singaporean, one blogger is inspired by the “rigorous debate thrust upon us by the Australian media,” saying, sarcastically, that “we should proceed to use the effectiveness of the death penalty on more crimes to make Singapore a better safer place, I can think of a few: gambling den casino operators, loan sharks, adulterers, people who don’t pay their parking fines… Once that is done, we can be as crime free as Iran.”

Another Singapore-based blog, Singabloodypore, has the latest on Nguyen’s execution, and by way of comment, only the words “For Van Tuong Nguyen,” beside the image of lighted candle.