Court will not admit UN report documenting torture of Falungong followers

August 29, 2006
Singapore Democrats

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In the on-going trial of the two Falungong practitioners, the police say that they arrested Mdm Ng Chye Huay and Mr Erh Boon Tiong for “harassment by displaying insulting writing – with common intention.”

So which part of the banner “Stop persecution of Falun Gong in China” was the insulting part, defense counsel Mr M Ravi asked Investigating Officer Mr Sonny Ooi of the Tanglin Police Division.

Ravi: Witness, you said that these words were insulting?

Witness: Yes, your honour.

R: When I mean these words, do you also refer to the words “Stop persecution of Falungong in China”? Not just the English words but the Chinese words too?

W: Yes

R: Why do you consider them insulting?

W: Sir, the wordings contained alleged persecution of Falungong in China, which is not factual.

R: So you say it is not insulting as the word ‘persecution’ is not correct. Is that what you are saying?

W: It is not factually correct, when verified, and the purpose of them –-

R: Why do you say it is not factually correct?

W: It is a allegation we are unable to verify.

R: Before verifying the facts, how did you then come to the conclusion that the persecution against the Falungong is not factually correct?

W: Before the arrest on 20 July, and the display of the banner, we have arrested Ng Chye Huey on 12 July for the same offence when she displayed a banner with wordings “bring Li Lan Qing to justice”. At that time we warned her not to display the banners in the parks. There were also several warnings given to them for the past few months for the activities they performed.

R: The witness is deviating from the question — how did you come to conclusion that the persecution of the Falung gong in China is unfounded?

W: (No response)

R: Witness you have no means to verify, correct?

W: Yes.

R: If you had the means to verify, and if you found it factually correct that the Falungong were persecuted in China, would you consider then that the words displayed on the banner are not insulting?

W: Yes, your honour.

R: Your honour, I would like to tender reports by the United Nations’ Working Group on Arbitrary Detention…There is ample opportunity to verify its authencity.

The prosecution rose to object to the UN document being admitted as a court exhibit as the maker of the report was not present. Deputy Public Prosecutor Mr Hay Hung Chun also questioned the report’s authenticity and verifiability.

District Judge Siva Shanmugam agreed.

Mr Ravi countered: “I would like to say clearly that this document is available on the Internet from the UN. I am extremely astounded that the AG’s Chambers who have all the access could not assist the police to verify whether this in fact is a report from the UN.”

He then offered time for DPP Hay to examine the document and to advice the police accordingly.

The Mr Hay declined and remained adamant that the UN document could not be admitted. The judge agreed again.

Mr Ravi then asked for an adjournment so that UN officials could be present to verify the report and have it admitted as an exhibit.

The judge refused and ordered Mr Ravi to continue with the cross-examination of witness Ooi.

“How can I make a case if I can’t produce documents that will assist in the CE (cross-examination) process,” Mr Ravi protested. “I hope your honour has understood the fundamental position, that my clients be given the opportunity to present their case, otherwise I have to make this the subject matter of a Criminal Motion, your honour.”

The judge ignored the lawyer: “Do you have any more questions for this witness?”

Referring to the confiscation of the defense’s photographs of tortured persons by the police earlier that afternoon, an exasperated Mr Ravi pleaded: “Sir, it is very serious that – not only of my client but of counsel as well – I need to protection that when your honour is not around, my rights are not trampled for I am an officer of the court.”

Judge Shanmugam side-stepped: “The court will ensure that you will not be prevented from showing your case.”

Mr Ravi added: “I’ll make the necessary complaints to the UN on my rights being curtailed and denying my clients their right to a fair trial, that is all.”

It is understood that international lawyers are being alerted about the situation and requested to come to observe the trial.

The defense is also raising questions that the case is politically-motivated.

Hearing continues at Court No. 33 at the Subordinate Courts.