The Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) has dropped three remaining charges against Dr Chee Soon Juan for speaking in public without a permit. Dr Chee was originally charged with eight separate counts.
The Prosecution made the surprise announcement in Court on Wednesday but did not give a reason as to why the charges were dropped. The withdrawn charges would amount to acquittals.The eight charges all stem from activities in 2006 during the general elections period. Of the five charges, four have already been dealt with and one more will proceed next year.
Dr Chee served a 5-week jail sentence for the first charge. The second, third and fourth charges all ended up with convictions and the matters are awaiting appeal.
In 2008 during the trial involving the second charge, the Prosecution offered to drop the rest of the six charges if Dr Chee would plead guilty. The SDP secretary-general turned down the offer.
At that time DPP Lim Tse Haw had told the court that if Dr Chee pleaded guilty to the remaining seven charges, the Prosecution would apply to have the charges taken into consideration for sentencing. In other words, sentence would be meted out for only one or two of the charges, not all seven of them.
As tempting as it was, Dr Chee refused to plead guilty.
As a result, the AGC decided to proceed with one charge after another dragging the matter out for more than three years.
Instead of prosecuting the eight charges all at one trial, the AGC insisted that it would proceed with one charge at a time. A few judges had asked why the matters could not be heard all together. This, the judges noted, would be neater and less time consuming.
But each time the Prosecution refused to give an explanation and insisted that it would proceed with the cases singly.
On Wednesday, however, the AGC suddenly announced that it would not go ahead with the three remaining charges.
“Does this mean that the charges would be withdrawn amounting to an acquittal?” the Judge asked.
“Yes,” the DPP confirmed.
The DPP did not state the reasons for the withdrawal of the charges.
Mr Yap Keng Ho is the other defendant.
In a separate development on the same day, the High Court granted Mr Yong Vui Kong a reprieve, albeit only temporarily.
Judge Woo Bih Li allowed a last minute stay of execution after Mr Yong’s lawyer, Mr M Ravi, made an application on constitutional grounds.
Mr Yong, 21, was convicted of bringing in heroin in 2008 and was due to be hanged today. Judge Woo said that he was allowing the matter to be heard in the Court of Appeal (Singapore’s highest court) next week.