TOC editor and lawyer being investigated for prejudicing ongoing court proceedings

(From left) Mr Daniel Augustin De Costa, lawyer M. Ravi and TOC editor Terry Xu outside the State Courts on Jan 20, 2020. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The police are investigating four people for contempt of court after they published online articles and Facebook posts in relation to ongoing court proceedings.

The police said in a statement on Friday (March 13) that their actions "pose a real risk of prejudicing or interfering with the course of such proceedings".

The four being investigated are editor of alternative news site The Online Citizen (TOC) Mr Terry Xu, lawyer Mr M. Ravi, Mr Mohan Rajangam and a writer working for TOC known as "Danisha Hakeem".

They are being investigated under the Administration of Justice (Protection) Act.

On Jan 10 at 1.16pm, Mr Ravi, on behalf of Mr Mohan, filed a petition for criminal revision, which is an appeal for the High Court to re-examine the record of any criminal proceedings or criminal case disclosure conference and revise any irregularities.

The petition called on the court to "examine the records" of Mr Mohan's transfer to Malaysia and "to satisfy itself as to the correctness, legality or propriety... and as to the regularity" of his transfer.

This was in reference to Mr Mohan, a 50-year-old Singaporean, being transferred to the Royal Malaysia Police on March 23, 2015, on suspicion of his involvement in drug- and gang-related offences. This was after three members of a gang involved in a March 21 shootout with Malaysian police were arrested in a Johor Baru unit rented by Mr Mohan.

The petition was supported by an affidavit from Mr Mohan claiming that he was transferred without proper proceedings.

On Jan 10 at 7.09pm, TOC published a Facebook post on the criminal revision with a link to an article on the TOC website written by a Danisha Hakeem.

The Facebook post and article both contained matters stated in Mr Mohan's affidavit.

Regarding the issue, the police clarified on Jan 17 that the transfer of 50-year-old Singaporean Mohan Rajangam to Malaysian police "was done in accordance with the legal framework in our legislation".

Responding to the police's media statement on Jan 17, Mr Xu also published a Facebook post and article on the TOC website on Jan 18 and 19 respectively, both featuring contents of Mr Mohan's affidavit.

The Supreme Court Practice Directions prohibits solicitors, litigants, the media and all other people from publishing the contents of any affidavit which has not been named as evidence or referred to in any hearing in open court or in Chambers.

The police said that the repeated publication of the contents of Mr Mohan's affidavit is a clear breach of this, and "suggests a concerted effort by one or more persons to publicly advocate for Mr Mohan's cause, ahead of the hearing of the criminal revision.

The police added that they have been authorised by the Attorney-General to initiate investigations.

On Friday at about 9am, Mr Xu posted on his Facebook page that his computers had been confiscated by the police at 7am without a warrant.

"Will have to turn up at the Cantonment Police Station to assist in investigations. A point to note, the articles were never POFMAed," he wrote, referring to the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act that prohibits the communication of falsehoods in Singapore.

The Straits Times understands that the police can seize computers for any investigation without a warrant.

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