SINGAPORE: The prosecutor overseeing the Annie Ee case – the intellectually disabled waitress who was tortured to death by a husband and wife – could not charge the couple with murder, the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) said in a statement on Monday (Dec 18).
Housewife Tan Hui Zhen and her husband Pua Hak Chuan were convicted earlier this month of assaulting Ms Ee, who died on Apr 13, 2015, after being abused by the couple for eight months.
Tan was sentenced to 16-and-a-half years' jail and Pua to 14 years’ jail and 14 strokes of the cane.
The case drew public outrage over the extent of the abuse Ms Ee suffered, and some members of the public questioned why the couple not charged with murder.
The AGC said on Monday that it was issuing a statement now as the time for appealing the court’s decision has expired and no appeal has been filed by the couple.
“It is the prosecutor’s duty to only prefer a charge which is supported by evidence. The evidence of the forensic pathologist was that Annie’s death was caused by acute fat embolism. This was an unusual occurrence that would not have ordinarily resulted from the injuries inflicted by Pua and Tan,” the statement said.
“As Pua and Tan did not intend to cause Annie’s death, and the injuries they inflicted would not ordinarily cause death, the offences of murder and culpable homicide cannot be proved against them,” it added.
The prosecution eventually proceeded against both Pua and Tan with charges of voluntarily causing grievous hurt, which the law defines as including death, with a dangerous weapon.
The charges “reflect the most serious offences committed by the two accused, as supported by the evidence”, the AGC said.
“We understand why the public was shocked and moved by Annie’s suffering and the nature and circumstances of her tragic death. However, the integrity of the legal system requires that all parties, including the accused, are treated fairly and that cases are prosecuted and decided strictly in accordance with the law and the evidence,” it said.
“It is therefore critical that the public refrains from commenting on, or interfering with, pending proceedings or otherwise seek to influence their outcome.”