Asia

High Court dismisses suit against A-G, deputy A-G and prosecutors by drug runner who escaped death penalty

SINGAPORE – The High Court has dismissed a civil suit against the Attorney-General, a deputy attorney-general and five prosecutors by a Malaysian drug runner who was spared the death penalty last year.

Justice Chua Lee Ming granted the defendants’ application to strike out Gobi Avedian’s suit on Thursday (April 15), saying his claim was unsustainable.

The defendants are the office of the Attorney-General, current Attorney-General Lucien Wong, Deputy Attorney-General Hri Kumar Nair, Deputy Chief Prosecutor Mohamed Faizal Mohamed Abdul Kadir, and prosecutors Tan Zhongshan, Nicholas Wuan, Chin Jincheng and Chong Kee En.

Gobi, through his then lawyer M. Ravi, had sued the defendants and Deputy Attorney-General Lionel Yee in November last year. The suit against Mr Yee was later dropped.

Referring to the prosecution’s actions in earlier court proceedings, including his initial trial in the High Court and the subsequent appeal by the prosecution to the Court of Appeal, Gobi alleged that the defendants had “abused their powers and acted in bad faith by improperly performing a legal act which resulted in harm to the plaintiff”.

Gobi claimed, among other things, that the defendants had “breached their fundamental duties to assist in the administration of justice” by running a different prosecution’s case at the appeal as compared with his trial.

The defendants applied for the suit to be struck out, arguing that they had acted lawfully and in good faith in the earlier court proceedings.

Among other things, they said in their written submissions that Gobi’s claim was “baseless and entirely without merit”.

He also could not back up his allegations that they had acted in bad faith, the defendants added.

On Thursday, Justice Chua said he agreed largely with the defendants’ arguments and noted that some of the requirements for Gobi’s claim to succeed were not satisfied.

In response to queries from The Straits Times, Mr Ravi said he was discharged from representing Gobi in the suit on Wednesday.

“Gobi has requested to discharge us from acting in this matter as he does not wish to trouble us further,” the lawyer said.

Mr Ravi said his former client “is very grateful for all the work that we had done for him in saving his life”, and filing this suit.

Gobi was originally charged with the importation of 40.22g of heroin, after he was caught at Woodlands Checkpoint on Dec 11, 2014.

In 2017, the High Court found that he did not know the nature of the drugs he was carrying and convicted him of a lesser charge.

But the Court of Appeal sentenced him to death the following year, after allowing an appeal by the prosecution.

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In 2019, Gobi, who was represented by Mr Ravi then, asked the apex court to review its decision.

Mr Ravi argued that the ruling the court made in a separate 2019 case of another drug offender should be extended to Gobi’s case, in which the legal issue was the presumption of knowledge of the nature of the drugs.

The apex court agreed and quashed Gobi’s conviction on the capital charge.

He was instead given 15 years’ jail and 10 strokes of the cane.

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