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Two Malaysian groups went to the Singapore High Commission in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia yesterday calling on Singapore to make restitution for wrongfulling executing Vignes Mourthi in 2003.
One of the groups, Lawyers for Liberty led by Malaysian lawyer Mr N Surendran (photo, white shirt), issued a memorandum of protest stating that Vignes was innocent, citing the fact that during one of the appeals former Chief Justice Yong Pung How had conceded that an accused can be hanged on merely procedural grounds.
The memorandum was also signed by the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall’s Civil Rights Committee.
Singapore’s High Commissioner Mr T Jasudasen did not meet the presenters. Instead First Secretary Mr Walter Chia received the memorandum on behalf of the High Commissioner.
Among those who delivered the memorandum was Vignes’ father Mr Mourthi Vasu who wanted his son’s name cleared posthumously. Mr Mourthi insisted that his son was innocent. Vignes maintained his innocence until his hanging in 2003.
The controversy is exacerbated by the fact that the police officer, Sergeant Rajkumar, who said that he had bought heroin from Vignes as an undercover narcotics officer was himself convicted bribery.At the time of Vignes trial, Sgt Rajkumar was already under investigation for his offence although this was not revealed. Observers say that this could have affected the officer’s testimony against Vignes.
The matter was first raised by Singapore human rights lawyer Mr M Ravi in his book Hung At Dawn. Mr Ravi had represented Vignes during the appeal stages.
This was subsequently picked up by Mr Alan Shadrake in his book Once A Jolly Hangman. Mr Shadrake has since been arrested and charged with contrempt of court for his book and is being investigated for criminal defamation. His hearing will be held on 30 Aug 10 in the High Court.
Although not banned, Once A Jolly Hangman is not allowed to be sold in Singapore bookstores. Bookstores in Johor Baru are capitalising on this and making brisk business with the book.
The memorandum of protest has also called for Mr Shadrake’s prosecution to be halted. The groups also want the Government to acknowledge the “enormous miscarriage of justice” in the execution of Vignes Mourthi and to “make amends” to his family.
In the meantime Mr Mourthi says he will engage a lawyer to take the Singapore Government to court to clear his son’s name.
The saga is triggered by the impending execution of 21-year-old Sabahan Mr Yong Vui Kong was is convicted of trafficking drugs in Singapore.