AGC asks lawyer to apologise, retract comments on case of drug runner who escaped gallows

Mr Ravi had told alternative news site The Online Citizen that the prosecutor had been "overzealous" in prosecuting Gobi, which "has led to the death sentence" for his client.
Mr Ravi had told alternative news site The Online Citizen that the prosecutor had been "overzealous" in prosecuting Gobi, which "has led to the death sentence" for his client.PHOTO: ST FILE

The Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) has issued a letter of demand to lawyer M. Ravi to apologise and retract comments he had made about a case involving a drug runner who escaped the gallows.

In a video interview with alternative news site The Online Citizen (TOC) on Monday, Mr Ravi had made "false and highly inflammatory" allegations against the prosecution in the case, the AGC said yesterday.

His comments came after the five-judge Court of Appeal on Monday reversed a 2018 decision to convict Gobi Avedian on a capital charge.

Mr Ravi had told TOC the prosecutor had been "overzealous" in prosecuting Gobi, which had "led to the death sentence" for his client.

He also said "it was troubling" that the prosecution ran different cases before the High Court and the Court of Appeal.

Mr Ravi called on the Public Prosecutor and others to apologise to Gobi for the suffering he experienced and added that the apex court's judgment calls into question "the fairness of the administration of justice in Gobi's case by the prosecution".

Yesterday, the AGC said in a statement that it had sent Mr Ravi a letter earlier in the day demanding that he apologise and unconditionally retract the allegations he had made.

"These are serious allegations, that the Public Prosecutor has acted in bad faith or maliciously in the prosecution of the applicant (Gobi)," the AGC said.

"They are false and highly inflammatory. It is highly improper and entirely contrary to Mr Ravi's obligations as an officer of the court for him to make these unfounded, baseless and misleading allegations."

The AGC noted that the Court of Appeal made no adverse findings against the Public Prosecutor or the prosecution of Gobi.

"In fact, the Court of Appeal pointed out in the judgment that the initial decision to convict the applicant was 'correct at the time (it was) made' and that none of the arguments considered in the judgment 'could have been made in view of the legal position as it was understood then'."

The AGC further said the apex court in its judgment had explicitly highlighted that at the time of the trial, the court that made the initial decision did not have the benefit of the guidance set out in a subsequent case involving Nigerian Adili Chibuike Ejike, who similarly escaped the gallows after he was cleared of drug importation charges last year.

The AGC has given Mr Ravi until noon tomorrow to respond.

Mr Ravi posted the letter of demand on his Facebook page yesterday, adding that he had taken instructions from his client and will start proceedings against Attorney-General Lucien Wong, Deputy A-G Hri Kumar Nair and Senior Counsel Mohamed Faizal Mohamed Abdul Kadir, an AGC deputy chief prosecutor who led the prosecution's case.

"I will file the writ of summons in the next few days, both personally against all three of the above government lawyers and also against their offices in which they hold public appointment," Mr Ravi wrote in his post.

"They have to be accountable to Gobi and his family in court and be subject to rigorous cross examination and scrutiny of their conduct of Gobi's case."

He added that he would respond to the letter of demand accordingly and start proceedings against the Law Society "if it does not do its part to protect lawyers and the independence of the profession, if it entertains any further complaints (or) participates in any harassment by the A-G".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 21, 2020, with the headline 'AGC asks lawyer to apologise, retract comments on case of drug runner who escaped gallows'. Print Edition | Subscribe