Singapore — A defence counsel has been appointed by the Attorney-General (AG) in the suit filed by lawyer M Ravi, who has sought access to documents concerning 11 prisoners, a majority of whom are on Death Row.
The AG has appointed Senior Counsel Alvin Yeo, the Chairman and Senior Partner of WongPartnership LLP, to defend it in the lawsuit.
An external counsel was appointed in order to prevent a possible conflict of interest as well as to make sure that the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) is above board, the straitstimes.com (ST) quotes lawyers as saying.
The report added that Mr Ravi’s originating summons named the Superintendent of Changi Prison as a second defendant in the case. The officer is being represented by Mr Abraham Vergis of Providence Asia Law.
The plaintiffs in Mr Ravi’s case include two men who have been in the news lately: Gobi Avedian and Syed Suhail Syed Zin.
Gobi Avedian had been originally sentenced to death for bringing drugs into the country in 2014 but the charge was later reduced to attempted drug importation. His new sentence is 15 years in jail and 10 strokes of the cane, backdated to the beginning of his detention.
As for Syed Suhail, a stay of execution of the convicted drug trafficker was extended in September following an application for a judicial review regarding claims of unequal treatment in scheduling executions.
Mr Ravi has applied to the court for copies of letters from the AG to the prison system of the 11 prisoners who are plaintiffs in the case, as well as the letters from the prison to the AG.
He has also sought access to the plaintiffs’ correspondence forwarded by the prison to the AG.
According to the report, Mr Ravi has applied for the correspondence as a pre-action discovery based on court rules, which means that the lawyer wants to inspect the correspondence and get answers to related questions in deciding if further action is to be taken.
The Court of Appeal had said in August, in the case of Gobi Avedian, that if the AGC wanted to obtain copies of prisoners’ correspondence that were with the prison authorities, it should have obtained consent from the prisoner or a court order.
A High Court pre-trial conference has been scheduled for Nov 20.
Mr Ravi wrote on Nov 4 that he had filed a suit on behalf of Gobi Avedian against the AG and the AG’s office — Mr Lucien Wong and eight other public prosecutors.
He had said: “This suit is filed on the ground of abuse of power in the manner in which the 9 prosecutors dealt with Gobi’s case.
“Alternatively, they have been sued for breach of statutory duty outlined in the writ attached here where their conduct of Gobi’s case has arguably breached the duties under the various sections of the Legal Profession Act, Professional Conduct Rules, 2015.” /TISG