Court of Appeal dismisses drug trafficker's 11th hour bid to stop his execution

Prabagaran Srivijayan, who was found guilty of drug trafficking, failed in an eleventh hour bid to stop his execution.
Prabagaran Srivijayan, who was found guilty of drug trafficking, failed in an eleventh hour bid to stop his execution. ST GRAPHICS

SINGAPORE - An eleventh hour bid by a 29-year-old Malaysian convicted of drug trafficking to stay his scheduled execution on Friday (July 14) was rejected by the Court of Appeal.

Prabagaran Srivijayan was found guilty by the High Court in 2014 for trafficking 22.24g of heroin. His appeal was dismissed, as well as a subsequent attempt to challenge the constitutionality of provisions in the Misuse of Drugs Act.

He then filed proceedings in the Malaysian courts, seeking to compel the Malaysian government to institute proceedings against Singapore in the International Court of Justice.

His application for leave to start judicial review proceedings was dismissed in March (2017) by Malaysia's High Court, which said it could not interfere in the case. Prabagaran then appealed to Malaysia's Court of Appeal.

On Thursday, Prabagaran's lawyer, Mr Choo Zheng Xi, on instructions from Prabagaran's family on Monday, asked the Singapore apex court to stay his client's death sentence on the grounds that his appeal in Malaysia was pending.

But the court, which comprised Judges of Appeal Chao Hick Tin, Andrew Phang and Tay Yong Kwang, said there was no legal basis to grant the stay.

Justice Chao noted that the bid to stave off Prabagaran's execution was an "unusual" one which differed from other eleventh hour motions in that it was predicated entirely on a pending appeal related to an application before the Malaysian court.

"With respect to counsel, we think this is an abuse of process," said Justice Chao.

"The judiciary of each country is entitled to act in accordance with its Constitution and its laws. No judiciary of one country interferes in the judicial process of another country."

Justice Chao said Prabagaran's aim was to delay the judicial process indefinitely.

"To allow such an application... would only encourage convicted offenders to impede and protract the course of justice by commencing proceedings in overseas courts or tribunals. This should not and cannot be tolerated."

Prabagaran was allowed to spend some time with his family in the court's lockup before he was taken back to prison.

Approached for a response to the judgment, Mr Choo told The Straits Times: "Given the gravity of the sentence, my duty is to exhaust all rememdies for my client and to always do my best."

Also in court was non-practising human rights lawyer M. Ravi, who had filed his own application and argued fervently for about 45 minutes. At several points, Justice Phang told him to calm down, to which Mr Ravi exclaimed he was calm.

Mr Ravi, who had represented Prabagaran during the initial trial, touched on a wide range of issues, including the separation of powers and the rights of sexual minorities.

The court dismissed his application, calling it "totally senseless and frivolous".

Chief Prosecutor Kow Keng Siong sought costs for Mr Ravi's application, saying that he was exploiting Prabagaran's case to "score maximum publicity".

The court ordered Mr Ravi to pay costs of $2,000 to the prosecution.