SINGAPORE: The Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) on Wednesday (Apr 27) warned people against repeating false allegations regarding the case of a convicted Malaysian drug trafficker.
Nagaenthran Dharmalingam was executed on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, the Court of Appeal dismissed a last-minute plea by Nagaenthran and his mother Madam Panchalai Supermaniam.
The criminal motion was filed by both parties on Monday, two days before his scheduled execution. Nagaenthran was sentenced to death in 2010 for importing 42.72g of heroin into Singapore in 2009 in a bundle strapped to his thigh.
In a media statement on Wednesday morning, the AGC noted that various individuals and groups have “repeated the false allegations” asserted in Mdm Panchalai’s affidavit and “sought to cast aspersions on the involvement” of Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon in the proceedings.
The prosecutors said these false allegations were made prior to and after the filing of Monday’s application, and were made both within and outside Singapore.
In the motion, Nagaenthran and his mother sought a stay of execution and argued that it was unconstitutional to carry out the death sentence because Chief Justice Menon, who presided over Nagaenthran’s previous failed appeals, was also the Attorney-General during his conviction.
“AGC takes a serious view of any act that may constitute contempt, and will not hesitate to take appropriate action to protect the administration of justice,” it said.
The AGC noted that the application on Monday was the seventh such application, not including appeals, that was brought by Nagaenthran after his appeal against conviction was dismissed by the Court of Appeal in 2011.
“It is the latest attempt to abuse the court’s processes and unjustifiably delay the carrying into effect of the lawful sentence imposed on Nagaenthran,” said the AGC.
In a previous hearing in March, the Court of Appeal delivered a judgment after applications brought by Nagaenthran “pertaining to the claimed deterioration in his mental faculties”.
The court ruled that those proceedings constituted a “blatant and egregious abuse” of the court’s processes, with the case mounted by Nagaenthran’s lawyers described as “baseless and without merit”.
The court then warned it was improper for his counsel to abuse the process of court.
The case has attracted international attention. The court's public gallery on Tuesday was full, and several members of the international media were present.
A panel of three judges - Justices Andrew Phang, Judith Prakash and Belinda Ang - heard the criminal motion on Tuesday.
The court noted that Chief Justice Menon was not involved in any decisions pertaining to Nagaenthran’s prosecution during his tenure as Attorney-General from Oct 1, 2010 to Jun 24, 2012.
The AGC added that Nagaethran, under legal advice, had no objections in 2016 to Chief Justice Menon hearing his matters. This confirmation was made after it was brought to Nagaethran’s counsel’s attention that Chief Justice Menon’s tenure as Attorney-General overlapped with their client’s criminal proceedings.
The Court of Appeal said it was “baseless” for Nagaethran to now assert that he had been denied a fair trial.
“It was also telling that he never raised any concerns from December 2016 to just two days before his rescheduled execution, which suggests this allegation is an afterthought and not made in good faith,” said the AGC.
LEGAL PAPERS "CLEARLY DRAFTED BY A LAWYER": AGC
In the latest application, Mdm Panchalia said her application and affidavit were prepared and filed with the help of “friends and social activists”, and added that lawyers had “declined to act”.
The AGC said the legal papers accompanying the latest applications were “clearly prepared under legal advice”.
It added that the email address provided by Mdm Panchalai “did not appear” to be hers, and that the legal papers had been signed for her by “someone else”.
The prosecutors submitted that Nagaethran’s mother ought to be directed to state the identities of the people involved in preparing the legal papers.
“The Court of Appeal observed that the legal papers were clearly drafted by a lawyer, and questioned Mdm Panchalai on who had helped her prepare and file the papers,” said the AGC.
“Mdm Panchalai maintained, against the evidence, that she had not been assisted by any lawyers and that it had been her non-legally trained relatives and family friends who had assisted.”
The court stated that this was a “clear continuation of the drip-feeding of applications in a bid to thwart the court’s efforts to discharge its responsibility”, added the AGC.
Delivering the judgment on behalf of the panel on Tuesday, Justice Phang said the court found the application to be "devoid of merit".
He added that it appeared to be a "calculated attempt" to diminish the finality of the court process.
"No court in the world would allow an applicant to prolong matters ad infinitum" by filing such applications, said the judge.
"There must come a time when the last word of the court is the last word."