Malaysian lawyer issued conditional warning in Singapore for contempt of court over comments on drug traffickers
SINGAPORE: Malaysian lawyer Zaid Abd Malek was on Jul 6 served a 24-month conditional warning by the Singapore police for the offence of contempt of court over his statements about the dismissal of lawsuits filed by two Malaysian drug traffickers, said the Singapore Police Force (SPF).
The statements were published in a Malay Mail article on Feb 14, 2020.
Mr Zahid, in his capacity as director of the non-governmental organisation Lawyers for Liberty, had commented on the dismissal of lawsuits filed by two convicted Malaysian drug traffickers, Gobi Avedian and Datchinamurthy Kataiah, over the alleged execution methods by prison authorities.
"Mr Zaid’s statements had suggested that the Singapore Courts had been unfair and ignored due process by rushing the hearing, and that the Singapore Courts were 'bent on dismissing the suits and proceeding to execution'," said SPF in the media release on Saturday (Jul 9).
"These statements were published online and accessed by members of the public in Singapore."
The police said that the Attorney-General's Chamber (AGC) issued an order on Mar 17, 2020, authorising SPF to investigate the alleged contempt of court.
Mr Zaid was overseas when the order was issued two years ago and has not been in Singapore until Jul 4 this year.
SPF's media release on Saturday came two days after Mr Zaid posted on Facebook about how he had been detained and interrogated by Singapore police when he arrived on Jul 4.
He said he had travelled to Singapore to provide legal advice to the family of Malaysian death row prisoner Kalwant Singh, who had been scheduled to be executed at Changi prison on Jul 7 on drug trafficking offences.
According to Mr Zaid, he was asked to wait by an immigration officer after arriving at Seletar Airport.
He added that he was made to wait for about four hours without any explanation, and was later taken to a room where he was served a notice ordering him to be at the Police Cantonment Complex on Jul 6 to be investigated for contempt of court offence.
Mr Zaid added that at the Police Cantonment Complex on the morning of Jul 6, he was interrogated for two-and-a-half hours. He was then released and told to return later in the day.
That night, he was told that he had committed the offence of contempt of court and was given two conditional warnings - one directed to him and the other at Lawyers for Liberty.
ORDER ISSUED WHEN HE WAS OVERSEAS
SPF said on Saturday that upon Mr Zaid's arrival on Jul 4, two officers went to the airport to serve an order requiring his attendance for investigations.
Mr Zaid told the police that he was available for the interview on Jul 6 and was allowed to leave the airport
Before the interview at the Police Cantonment Complex started, the police said Mr Zaid was informed that he could request for breaks at any point.
"Statement recording began at about 10.17am and ended at about 12.05pm, and Mr Zaid did not request for any break throughout the interview," said SPF. "Mr Zaid left the Police Cantonment Complex shortly after the statement recording ended."
After investigations concluded on the same day, SPF said that in consultation with the AGC, the police served a 24-month conditional warning to Mr Zaid and Lawyers for Liberty on Jul 6, in lieu of prosecution for the offence of contempt of court. This was issued before his scheduled departure on Jul 7.
The police said Mr Zaid accepted both warnings served to him and Lawyers for Liberty in his capacity as the director of the group.
"Mr Zaid arrived at the Police Cantonment Complex to receive the warnings on Jul 6, 2022, at about 8.48pm and left the building at about 9.20pm," SPF added.
It noted that under the Administration of Justice (Protection) Act 2016, "the publication in relation to contempt of court, if published through the Internet or other electronic media, is taken to be published in Singapore if it was accessed by members of the public in Singapore".