AGC demands lawyer M. Ravi retract comments over drug runner who escaped death penalty

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

SINGAPORE - 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 (Oct 19), Mr Ravi had made "false and highly inflammatory" allegations against the prosecution in the case, the AGC said on Tuesday.

This came after the five-judge Court of Appeal on Monday reversed a 2018 decision to convict Mr Ravi's client, Gobi Avedian, on a capital charge.

Mr Ravi had told TOC the prosecutor had been "overzealous" in prosecuting Gobi, which "has 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 fairness of the prosecution is called into question" by the apex court.

On Tuesday, 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 said.

The AGC added that the apex court in its judgment had explicitly highlighted the fact 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 a Nigerian man, Adili Chibuike Ejike, who similarly escaped the gallows after he was cleared of drug importation charges last year.

The AGC gave Mr Ravi until noon on Oct 22 to respond.

Mr Ravi later posted the letter of demand on his Facebook page, adding that he had taken instruction from his client and will commence proceedings against Attorney-General (A-G) Lucien Wong, Deputy A-G Hri Kumar Nair and Senior Counsel Mohamed Faizal Mohamed Abdul Kadir, a deputy chief prosecutor from the AGC 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 said 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.”

Mr Ravi also said he would respond to the letter of demand accordingly and commence 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”.

“I have taken an oath to honour my duties to my profession and my clients, to discharge my duties without any fear or favour. If I am suspended or struck off one day because of this complaint made by the A-G, so be it,” said Mr Ravi.

“I have a regional firm in Myanmar with loving colleagues and several alliances in neighbouring countries I can contribute to positively.”