Singapore — Lawyer M Ravi was charged in court on Wednesday (Dec 16) with criminal defamation of Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam.

Ravi, 51, is accused of defaming Mr Shanmugam by alleging that the minister had claimed that he wields influence over and controls Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon.

The allegations were made in a Facebook post on Nov 6, with Ravi claiming that he had heard them from fellow lawyer Eugene Thuraisingam.

However, in a post on his own Facebook page the same day, Mr Thuraisingam, a prominent criminal defence lawyer who has represented several people accused of murder and secured the acquittal of a doctor accused of rape, called Ravi’s Facebook post “false and completely untrue”.

“I refer to Mr M Ravi’s Facebook post this morning where he alleged amongst other things that I told him that the Honourable Minister for Law and Home Affairs had made statements to me which cast aspersions on the independence of Singapore’s judiciary. This is false and completely untrue. Mr Shanmugam has never said anything like that to me. I have also never told Mr Ravi any such thing.”

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“This is my letter to Mr Shanmugam making this clear,” he added, including photos of his letter.

The case was heard only briefly on Wednesday, with Ravi telling the judge that he had already made representations the previous week.

It will next go to a pre-trial conference in January.

In October, after successfully overturning a death sentence of drug trafficker Gobi Avedian, Ravi gave an interview where he insinuated that the AGC had acted in bad faith or maliciously. When he failed to apologise and retract the allegations, the AGC filed a disciplinary complaint to the Law Society of Singapore over Ravi’s possible professional misconduct. The outcome for the complaint is pending.

If convicted of criminal defamation, Ravi could be jailed for up to two years, fined or both. /TISG