Singapore — The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has issued a clarification regarding accusations that came after correspondence by a Death Row inmate to his lawyer was forwarded to the Attorney-General’s Chambers.
The inmate, Singaporean Syed Suhail Syed Zin, 44, was arrested in 2011 and convicted in December 2015 of a capital charge of possessing at least 38.8g of diamorphine or heroin for trafficking. When he was imprisoned in 2018, he wrote a letter to his lawyer, which was forwarded to the AGC.
In a Facebook post on Monday (Sept 21), Suhail’s lawyer, Mr M Ravi of Carson Law Chambers, referred to the issue as: “The unlawful means by which the AG office had obtained confidential material between Syed Suhail and his previous lawyer Ramesh Tiwari which has been disclosed by Francis Ng SC and his prosecution team on last Friday.”
#CapmpaignToSaveSyedSuhailandFadzirJust finished my preparation for the hearing at 2.30pm before the Court of Appeal…
In a statement on Tuesday (Sept 22), the MHA added that it wished to “clarify the circumstances surrounding the Letter” and denied all allegations of impropriety or discrimination when it comes to scheduling judicial executions, essentially saying that Singaporeans are not executed ahead of foreigners.
Its statement, titled “No Discrimination In Scheduling of Judicial Executions, and Clarification On Disclosure Of Inmate’s Letters To The Attorney-General’s Chambers”, said that “all prisoners sentenced to capital punishment are accorded due process according to the law. A judicial execution will only be scheduled after an inmate has exhausted all legal channels for appeal and clemency, regardless of whether the prisoner is a Singaporean or a foreigner”.
The MHA also said: “During the hearing, counsel also referred to a letter written by Syed Suhail to his then-counsel (the “Letter”), which had been extended by the SPS to the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC). The SPS wishes to clarify the circumstances surrounding the Letter.”
It added: “During a hearing before the Court of Appeal on 3 May 2018, Syed Suhail informed the court that he wished to introduce evidence from his uncle for the purposes of the appeal, having given the court various reasons during the trial for not calling his uncle as a defence witness. The hearing was then adjourned for parties to look into this request and the Court of Appeal allowed the AGC to file a response if it thought that Syed Suhail was abusing the process of the court.
“In the preparation of its response, AGC approached SPS to check whether Syed Suhail had expressed any prior intention to call his uncle as a witness. SPS checks revealed that Syed Suhail had informed the Superintendent of his intention to call his uncle as a defence witness. He had also written four letters to his uncle.
“In this context, SPS extended a copy of these letters, and one letter to his then-counsel (i.e. the Letter) to the AGC on 10 May 2018 and 7 June 2018. At that time, there was no legal prohibition in the Prisons Act or Regulations against doing so.”
The MHA’s full statement can be found here. /TISG