First day of trial for WB-IMF protesters

Singapore Democrats

The first day of the trial of six SDP members and activists was adjourned. The defendants wanted more time to prepare the case because the prosecution had amended the charge at the last minute.

“What is amazing is the fact that only two days ago, the Prosecution decided to amend the charge when the matter happened more than two years ago,” noted Mr Gandhi.

The Judge gave the defendants the rest of the day to seek legal advice on the amended charges.

The adjournment was also needed for Mr Jeffrey George to plead guilty in another courtroom. Mr George had applied to the court for him to be tried separately because of his overseas work commitment, which remained incomplete.

“If my case can be postponed till after this job is done, I will come back and face trial,” he told District Judge Toh Yoon Cheong.

Judge Toh rejected his request and insisted that Mr George stand trial immediately. That left Mr George no option but to plead guilty because he needed to return to work the same afternoon.

Mr Jeffrey’s case was then transferred to another court before District Judge Liew Thian Leng who fined him a total of S$1,300 for two charges, the present one and another for distributing flyers in September 2006.

In a statement, Mr Jeffrey said: “I am pleading guilty as there are no alternative avenues open to me. First I tried to postpone the trial or have a separate trial for me but both requests were rejected by DJ Toh. I put up the two requests because of my work commitments outside Singapore. I’m half-way through on a contract job in Peninsula Malaysia.

“My pleading guilty comes after I have exhausted all avenues. My giulty plea should in no way be interpreted as changing my views on challenging some of the unjust laws deliberately kept in place by the ruling party to prohibit peaceful assemblies and association.

“I will continue to defy unjust laws that trample upon my constitutional rights under Article 14. I take this opportunity to express my complete solidarity with my brave colleagues who are standing up for civil liberties and the rule of law.”

Earlier the defendants applied to be tried separately from Mr Yap Keng Ho who was not part of the protest group. Mr Yap also wanted a separate trial because he said he was there as an observer, not a participant. The judge overruled this and said that the defendants would all be tried in a joint trial.

The trial continues tomorrow at 11.30 am in Subordinate Court No. 19.

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