Defendants press for a copy of the video ‘evidence’

November 1, 2006
Singapore Democrats

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At the heart of the proceedings of Day 5 of the trial of Mr Gandhi Ambalam, Dr Chee Soon Juan, and Mr Yap Keng Ho was controversy surrounding the video evidence that the Prosecution now wants to admit.

Ms Lee Lit Cheng, DPP, repeated that the reason why she now wanted to tender the video recording as evidence was because of the allegations the Defendants had made about the unseemly tactics of the Prosecution.

The Defendants had cited the improper conduct of the DPP to have the Investigating Officer, who is also a witness, sit in the courtroom even whilst the other police witnesses were giving evidence. 

Ms Lee did not say how the introduction of the video recording could ameliorate the situation of the contamination of evidence by colluding police witnesses.

Rather than help put out the fire, DPP Lee’s U-turn to admit the video evidence only raised more suspicions.

Judge Tham pointed out that there is no discovery of evidence in criminal trials.

“I would like to remind the Court,” Dr Chee said, “that it was the DPP who during the pre-trial conference months ago, not only informed the Defence that it would use the video recording but would also give the Defendants a copy of it.”

If she had done that, Dr Chee continued, there would have been no problem now. The authenticity of the recording could have been be verified and any dispute settled before parties came to trial.

In addition, the Defendants would have been given the chance to show the video to lawyers and seek legal advice.

But the Prosecution changed its mind before the trial began and refused to give the Defendants a copy of the VCD thereby depriving them of the opportunity to authenticate the recording as well as to consult legal experts.

“Now in the middle of the trial,” Dr Chee observed, “the DPP reverses its position yet again and now wants to present the video as evidence but refuses to give a copy to the Defendants. What sort of a game is the DPP playing and what sort of a trial is this?”

Mr Yap Keng Ho asked what was the DPP’s fear of giving the Defendants a copy of the VCD. After all, he pointed out, its content did not carry any state secret or covert, military matters.

He also asked Ms Lee whether copies of the VCD had been given to PAP leaders like Mr Lee Kuan Yew and Mr Wong Kan Seng.

The DPP avoided answering and went on to another subject. Several minutes later, Mr Yap asked the question again.

It was a revealing moment when Judge Eddy Tham stepped into Ms Lee’s defence: “The DPP is not compelled to answer that question.” He did not even rule whether the question was relevant or not.

Could not the Judge have asked DPP Lee whether she wanted to respond to Mr Yap’s query first before coming to her aid?

The Judge then asked the Defendants if they wanted to view the video before he made a ruling on its admissibility. Mr Yap said yes while Mr Ambalam and Dr Chee declined, citing that as long as the Judge refused to direct DPP Lee to give copies to the Defendants it was pointless to view it.

The hearing was adjourned to 9:30 am in Subordinate Court No 18.