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AGC looking into potential breaches of gag order relating to Chin Swee Road murder case

AGC looking into potential breaches of gag order relating to Chin Swee Road murder case

Block 52 Chin Swee Road. (Photo: Hanidah Amin)

SINGAPORE: The Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) said on Wednesday (Sep 25) it is looking into potential breaches of a gag order in the court case involving the death of a two-year-old girl in a Chin Swee Road flat.

It also warned against making any public comments that may interfere with ongoing court proceedings.

“The AGC takes a serious view of any act that may constitute contempt or which breaches the gag order,” it said in a media release.

“The AGC has been alerted to potential breaches and is looking into the matter. We will not hesitate to take appropriate action to protect the administration of justice.”

The girl’s parents are accused of killing her in March 2014. Her remains were only found on Sep 10 this year, after police received a call for help at Block 52 Chin Swee Road.

READ: Chin Swee Road death: Father accused of murdering 2-year-old daughter remanded for psychiatric observation

A gag order had been issued by the court to protect the identity of the victim.

“This order restrains the publication of the name, address, photograph, any evidence or any other thing likely to lead to the identification of the victim or accused persons,” said the AGC.

It also warned that statements made by the public and media may be in contempt of court if the statements prejudice, interfere with, or pose a real risk of prejudicing or interfering with the pending court proceedings.

"All parties are therefore advised to refrain from speculating or making any public comments on matters that may pose a real risk of prejudice to or interference with the ongoing criminal proceedings," said AGC.

As of Wednesday afternoon, there was at least one Facebook post which shared the purported identities of the couple involved. The post has been shared more than 4,600 times.

Anyone convicted of contravening a gag order issued by the court can be jailed for up to a year, fined a maximum of S$5,000, or both.

Those who share a post in breach of the gag order can also be charged, but social media sites such as Facebook are protected if they are just the platform on which the information is shared, lawyer Darren Tan told CNA.

However, if a post becomes viral through multiple posts and reposts, "it remains to be seen how action will be taken in such a situation", said the director at Invictus Law.

Mr Tan said he believes there have been no reported cases so far of a person being charged or convicted for breaching a gag order in Singapore.

The couple in the Chin Swee Road case – a 31-year-old man and his 30-year-old wife - were charged with murder with common intention last week.

The man, who was unrepresented, returned to court via video-link on Tuesday for a further mention of his case. He is currently remanded for psychiatric observation.

His wife is serving a jail sentence of five years and two months for drug-related offences and theft.

Source: CNA/ll(gs)

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