High Court dismisses death row inmates' lawsuit over 'spurious allegations'

SINGAPORE - In the absence of evidence to support their claims, the High Court dismissed on Thursday (Feb 13) a move by two death row inmates who want a stay on their executions pending a probe on recent allegations about unlawful methods used during a hanging.

Lawyer M. Ravi had submitted the stay application for 31-year-old Gobi Avedian and Datchinamurthy Kataiah, 34, who were sentenced to death for capital offences involving drug trafficking.

But by the court's deadline of 4pm on Feb 10, the applicants failed to file any affidavit setting out the evidence they had relied on to allege the illegal methods used or substantiate what they claimed, said the Attorney-General's Chambers in a media statement.

Instead they filed another application - Originating Summons (OS) 181 - just before the deadline.

"The applicants thus appear to be making serious allegations without any basis," added the AGC.

The allegations were based on a statement by Malaysian rights group Lawyers for Liberty (LFL), which claimed that executions at Changi Prison were carried out by kicking the back of the prisoner's neck in the event of the rope breaking.

This was refuted by the Home Affairs Ministry, which said LFL's statement was "untrue, baseless and preposterous", and that all judicial executions are carried out in strict compliance with the law.

The rights group was also given a correction order under Singapore's Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (Pofma).

In the other application, the men sought a declaration that the AGC had breached their "rights to a fair hearing under Article 9 of the Constitution" as it had expressly reserved its rights against Mr Ravi during the pre-trial conference on Feb 4.

The applicants sought an order to delay the probe of the alleged unlawful execution methods until after the outcome of any appeals from the second application.

The AGC said: "OS 181 is a spurious application. A statement about reserving rights - which is a statement that all lawful legal options are being kept open - is commonplace, and does not in any way infringe any constitutional right or deny a fair hearing.

"Indeed, Mr Ravi continued to represent the applicant."

AGC added the second application was a delaying tactic to prevent the spurious allegations in the first application from being dealt with expeditiously in the public interest.

The High Court also threw out the second application as it lacked factual basis since the words used did not amount to a threat, said the AGC.

The AGC has given notice to the court that it intends to apply for an order of costs against Mr Ravi in his personal capacity, as provided under the Rules of Court.

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