Defendants to apply for Criminal Motion to abort trial

October 27, 2006
Singapore Democrats

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Based on the proceedings that took place yesterday, 26 Oct 06, during which a police witness, ASP Jeremy Koh was was also the Investigating Officer (IO), was discovered to be present in the courtroom while his fellow witnesses were given evidence, the Defendants Mr Gandhi Ambalam, Dr Chee Soon Juan and Mr Yap Keng Ho applied for the trial to be aborted.

The three men have been charged with speaking in public without a permit on 22 Apr 06 during the election period.

Judge Eddy Tham dismissed the application and ordered the case to proceed.

Dr Chee had argued that ASP Koh had not only been present in the courtroom, but he was seen going in and out of the witness room while the trial was proceeding. Dr Chee pointed out that the signboard outside the courtroom read: “Parties please proceed to Court. Witnesses to be in the witness room.”

Despite this age old requirement, Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Ms Lee Lit Cheng claimed that she had “forgotten” to seek permission from the Judge to allow ASP Koh in the courtroom.

She also told the court that she needed ASP Koh to be in the courtroom “to activate him to contact the next witness.”

This was contradicted, however, by the IO who told the Court that he had received “no special instructions” from the DPP and was there on his “own initiative”.

And even though the DPP said that ASP Koh was helping her to contact the next witness, ASP Koh did not know who the next witness was when Dr Chee asked him.

But Judge Eddy Tham did not find any of this relevant and ruled that the case should proceed.

In his application Dr Chee said: “Don’t get me wrong, I will face my accusers anytime and any place, and I will take whatever the sentence this Court metes out, however unjust it may be.

“But at least, should the DPP not show a modicum of respect in this courtroom? It may be difficult but the Prosecution should at least make an effort to pretend that it is interested in a fair process and that this trial be conducted in a transparent manner and is above board.

He added that the Prosecution should not “be so blatant in its disregard for the rules and procedures.”

Dr Chee and Mr Ambalam then sought permission to file a Criminal Motion to abort the trial because of the irregularities. The Judge adjourned the hearing until 11 am Monday morning to allow the Defendants to file the Motion.

Earlier on in the day, Mr Yap Keng Ho was placed on bail when he showed up late for Court. He had gone to the High Court to file his Criminal Motion. Mr Yap apologised for his oversight.

In a separate matter, Mr M Ravi was suspended for one year in his disciplinary hearing with the Law Society. The case involved an acrimonious exchange the lawyer had with a judge in 2003.