SINGAPORE - For criminal lawyer Peter Ong Lip Cheng, the Covid-19 travel restrictions mean his client, accused of a sexual offence against a Swiss-based complainant, will continue to be remanded until the victim is able to return to testify.
Mr Ong, whose client has been in remand for more than 20 months, insists on the complainant testifying in person instead of via Zoom, pointing out the importance of the manner in which a person gives evidence in court.
"To me, cross-examining the complainant in person rather than via Zoom is more effective in testing the veracity of his evidence," he said. "I have no issues with other parties in the case appearing via Zoom."
His client Perez Poquiz, 35, is accused of one charge involving oral sex without consent in relation to the complainant.
Arrested in January last year, he is in remand in lieu of the $20,000 bail offered. A gag order was ordered by the court on the complainant's identity.
Mr Ong said the trial, which has been part-heard, is due to continue next month, but the case could have concluded by now if not for the pandemic. "I am concerned as the amount of time he has spent in remand could outrun the sentence he stands to face, if convicted."
He said he was given to understand that the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority is considering possible arrangements for the complainant's entry to Singapore next year to testify.