Mr Gandhi Ambalam pointed out in court today that copy of the video recording used by the Prosecution in the on-going trial had been “doctored.”
He, together with Dr Chee Soon Juan and Mr Yap Keng Ho, are charged with speaking in public without a permit during the elections period in May this year.
Mr Ambalam played the DVD copy which showed a still frame of Dr Chee holding a microphone and copies of The New Democrat at the start of the video. The picture was not present in the original copy of the videotape that was played in court.
Judge Eddy Tham noted the anomaly when he viewed the DVD copies of the recording.
“I’m not afraid to be charged and to go to prison,” Mr Ambalam reiterated. “But, at least, the Prosecution should be gentlemanly and not resort to such nonsense.
“I’m just tired of all this. Why don’t we dispense with video evidence and you can just sentence us now by summary judgement?” he told the Judge.
DPP Lee Lit Cheng had originally resisted giving the Defendants copies of the recording. But Mr Ambalam and Dr Chee said that they would refuse to participate in the proceedings if the copies were withheld. The Judge finally directed the DPP to give the Defendants the copies.
DPP Lee had assured that the DVDs were accurate copies of the original tape. She could not, however, explain the discrepancy between the original and duplicate versions.
She told the Court that she would check with Criminal Investigations Department officers who had made the copies.
This was the latest in a series of bungles by the Prosecution. A police witness was caught present in the courtroom while other officers were tendering their evidence.
The second occurred at the beginning of the trial when the DPP had refused to admit the video as evidence (she had during the pre-trial conference indicated that the Prosecution would use the video) only to make a reversal half-way through the proceedings.
Dr Chee then said that he had not contested the validity of the copies because he had accepted the DPP’s assurance that the copies were faithful replicas of the original version.
He expressed regret at this latest incident and said that he hoped that the matter can be resolved quickly so that the trial can proceed without further mishaps on the part of the Prosecution.
It was also revealed that the tapes had passed through the hands of five officers, two of whom held the rank of Deputy Superintendents (DSP).
One of them, Mr Chua Teck Wah, said that the only reason he was in possession of the tape was because he was making copies.
Mr Yap then asked the DSP: “Witness, you hold a very senior rank. Why did you have to do such a job of making copies of the video?”
DSP Chua sheepishly replied that he “happened to be the only one” who knew how to operate the duplicating machine.
He had made these copies at 12 noon on 22 Apr 06, that is, immediately after the recording of the tape that morning.
Another DSP, Mr Lawrence Eng who is Head Investigations in Ang Mo Kio Police Division, indicated that he had put the tape in his safe.
Asked by Dr Chee whether any of the copies had been handed to people other than police officers, Judge Tham quickly stepped in and ruled that the question was irrelevant.
(In 1997, then prime minister Mr Goh Chok Tong admitted in court that a copy of the police report that Mr Tang Lian Hong made against PAP leaders during the general elections was given to Home Affairs Minister Wong Kan Seng. A defamation suit was then launched against Mr Tang by 11 PAP leaders.)
Hearing continues on Monday at 9:30 am.