Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A Shining Light In The Midst Of Darkness

"To reiterate, the duty of the prosecution is not to secure a conviction at all costs. Rather, the prosecution owes a duty to the court and to the wider public to ensure that only the guilty are convicted," Justice V K Rajah reminded the bungling cops who nearly dispatched a man with an IQ of only 73 to the gallows for a murder he did not commit.

The court of appeal said the prosecution was not even able to establish without a doubt that Ismil was at the scene of the crime, let alone being a party to the robbery or the killing of the deceased. The gravest injustice, and one that is still being perpetrated in the courts of Singapore, has to be the police practice of withholding statements which are crucial for the defence counsels. "To our consternation, three vital items of evidence were not provided to counsel for the appellants by the prosecution until very late in the proceedings." Justice Rajah said it was an ethical duty to produce the statements as the issue of how many intruders were in the flat during the incident went to the very heart of the case. The victim's husband may have been bed ridden because of a stroke, but he had a clear view of the doorway. The police decided to go with a "confession" extracted in the confines of a police car, "recorded" on a piece of paper, and "transferred" to a field diary by a Senior Station Inspector of 28 years experience. If this is standard professional conduct of the SPF, it makes you wonder about the awards handed out by the Home Affairs Minister all these years.

The redeeming element in this sad tale is that lawyer R Thrumurgan stood by his client during the 6 years he was locked up because of the persecutor prosecutor's zeal. A friend who suffered the ignominy of going to court said his arresting officer had recommended a letter of warning for the minor transgression, but the officer's "charge -happy" supervisor had insisted on prosecuting. Although the episode concluded with the charge dismissed at court, the trauma resulted in a year of depression and medication.

There is no great financial reward for Mr Thrumurgan's perseverance, although the judges lauded him for "impassioned advocacy" and "commendable conscientiousness". His own words explain, "It is a privilege to do what we do, to save a life." It is a privilege to have you in the justice system, Mr Thrumurgan, we thank you for restoring our faith in mankind.


  1. //The gravest injustice, and one that is still being perpetrated in the courts of Singapore, has to be the police practice of withholding statements which are crucial for the defence counsels//
    Is that even legally defensible here? God bless Thrumurgan.
    I think SPF has it fair share of corrupt cockcroaches or incompetent officers.

  2. It is due to this unfettered power of the AG and the prosecution that led to the call of abolishing death penalty. Ismail could have been wrongly hanged for a crime he did not commit. People should go and read the book by Alan Shadrake "Once a Jolly Hangman" to understand why Singapore's justice is in the dock.

  3. This shows Singapore Justice works when given a chance. As the process takes time and allows appeals.

  4. If not for Thrumurgan, Ismail could have been hung and then even if the conviction is overturned (unlikely after a death sentence is carried out) justice served?

  5. My friend was involved in a police case involving a local dept store whereby he was reported to the police for making a cash payment to one of their sales promoter for the purchase of items meant to be for promotional or complimentary purposes. Eventually the police decided not to charge him but to only issue a stern warning instead but the cash amount was confisgated by the police dept.

    It makes one wonder whether the police acted beyond their authority to confisgate the cash when there was no criminal offence committed or was it another case of 'money not enough' on the part of some cash-strapped officer ?

  6. "this shows singapore justice works when given a chance"...except the fact some are above the law.
    maybe the dumb ass 60% will concur with you. LOL

  7. Anon 4.33pm

    Being presumptious? will ask than is every decision/choice made by Anon 4.33pm 100% correct.

    The key issue as always, is there safeguards and is there process of appeals because the recognition of possible lapses can occur especially for such serious occasions.

    Furthermore, as more facts emerge, his own brother initially claimed that the defendant who was released was the killer.
    Not denying the lapses and whoever was the party should be rightly taken to task.

    But it does show that justics is there and all the outcries of bias shows that it is outcries, noticeably as well that the lawyer is a quiet achiever unlike many who like to trumpet themselves.

  8. @ Ajohor,
    it is you who is being presumptuous. LOL

    can justice in spore be perceived as served if some are above the law? or preceived by ordinary folks as having double standards ?

    what safeguards are you talking about when the former AG Chan SK can openly cook up some kangaroo logic to argue in favour of Goh CT and TT that they did not break the law when both were found well inside the election voting premises ?

    now ask yourself, what has become of Chan SK ?
    while you are at it, read up on the fate of former district judge Michael Khoo.

    in fact, there is alot more for you to read and learn from the internet if you want to understand why i am adamant that some are above the law.
    when you are done, come back and convince me there is integrity in our justice system.

    ps: if you do a poll and 60% thinks there is integrity, do you then claim the spore justice system has integrity? LOL

  9. The judge themselves need to wake up, not just the police and prosecutors. For it is the judge who needs to be convinced beyond reasonable doubt through hard evidence to sentence someone to death. If the statements and evidence are so shoddy, how could the trial judge be so gullible to even believe there is no doubt?

    Look at all the past defamation suits, the judges' behaviours were so bias you could smell a rat a mile away. The one who chose to do the right thing (Michael Khoo) had his fate buried overnight. Tang Liang Hong, faced with 20 over charges all similar in kind at one go, and the judge refused to accept his application to hear them all at once but instead he has to fight 20 over cases. How can any person handle the load? Doesn't the judge have commonsense? He would be crushed even if he was innocent under such legal artillery. And JBJ? Bankrupted because he simply stated an irrefutable fact, that Tang filed a police report.