Parti Liyani, ex-maid of Liew Mun Leong, seeks court nod for inquiry against two prosecutors

Ms Parti Liyani and her lawyer Anil Balchandani outside the State Courts on Sept 8, 2020. ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - The former maid of prominent businessman Liew Mun Leong is seeking the court's permission for an inquiry into the conduct of the two prosecutors in her case.

Ms Parti Liyani, 46, filed the complaint in June against Deputy Public Prosecutors Tan Wee Hao and Tan Yanying, who had prosecuted her case in the State Courts for theft.

Ms Parti was acquitted on appeal to the High Court earlier this month.

A High Court pre-trial conference was held on Wednesday (Sept 23) in chambers, said her lawyer Anil Balchandani.

The application by Ms Parti - known as an originating summons - was taken out on an ex parte basis, which means only the applicant can be heard, unless the court says otherwise.

The Attorney-General's Chambers last month filed a summons to seek leave from the court for the two named legal service officers to appear and be heard, through State Counsel representing them, in the proceedings.

Ms Parti, an Indonesian who worked for the Liew family from 2007 to 2016, had been convicted by a lower court of stealing more than $34,000 worth of items from the family.

Justice Chan Seng Onn, in overturning the conviction and acquitting Ms Parti, had taken issue on several counts with how the case was handled.

He noted that the Liew family could have been motivated to terminate Ms Parti's employment abruptly and file the police report in order to prevent her from reporting her illegal deployment to work at the house and office of Mr Liew's son.

The judge had also found that there was a break in the chain of custody of evidence. This created a reasonable doubt as to whether some of the allegedly stolen items discovered by the family were accurately documented by the photographs taken by the police some five weeks later.

During this period, the family were also told by the police that they were free to use the items. They took and put items back into the boxes, but it was not clear if the items that were put back were the same ones removed earlier.

Justice Chan also found that two statements were taken from Ms Parti without an interpreter.

In the light of the judgment, the Attorney-General's Chambers had said it was reviewing the handling of the case. The Ministry of Manpower said it was in consultation with the AGC on whether further action ought to be taken in this case while the Singapore Police Force also said it was looking into how its investigations were conducted.

At this stage, only leave for an inquiry to be held is being sought under the originating summons filed by Ms Parti.

The inquiry precedes the disciplinary tribunal proceedings on whether there are grounds for convening one.

If Ms Parti succeeds in her application, a disciplinary tribunal may then be appointed to hear the case and submit its findings to the Chief Justice.

The Chief Justice can dismiss the case if the tribunal finds no cause of sufficient gravity for disciplinary action, or give orders to have punishments imposed, such as censure, paying a penalty of up to $20,000, or any other order deemed appropriate.

Ms Parti filed the summons under Section 82A of the Legal Profession Act, which deals with misconduct by legal service officers and the penalties if they are found guilty.

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