High Court dismisses bid by two to stay their executions

Inmates fail to file any evidence to support their claim that unlawful methods were used for hangings

In the absence of evidence to support their claims, the High Court dismissed yesterday 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 Gobi Avedian, 31, and Datchinamurthy Kataiah, 34, who were sentenced to death for capital offences involving drug trafficking.

But by 4pm on Monday, as directed by the court, 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.

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," said the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) in a media statement. The allegations were based on a statement by Lawyers for Liberty (LFL), a Malaysian rights group which claimed executions at Changi Prison were carried out in an unlawful manner.

This was refuted by the Ministry of Home Affairs, 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.

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 a Feb 4 pre-trial conference.

The applicants sought an order to delay the probe in relation to the alleged unlawful execution methods, until after the determination of any appeals from the second bid.

 
 
 

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 applicants."

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

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.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 14, 2020, with the headline 'High Court dismisses bid by two to stay their executions'. Print Edition | Subscribe