Tuesday, 27 Oct 2020

Former maid Parti Liyani gets 2 weeks to decide if dropping complaint against DPPs for alleged misconduct

SINGAPORE – Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon has given former domestic worker Parti Liyani two weeks to decide whether she wants to proceed with her application to start disciplinary proceedings against two state prosecutors who conducted her trial for theft.

The 46-year-old Indonesian had filed the application in June this year, before she was acquitted last month by the High Court, on her appeal, for stealing from the family of prominent businessman Liew Mun Leong.

The Straits Times understands that Ms Parti filed a notice to discontinue the case on Tuesday.

In a chambers hearing on Thursday (Oct 1), her lawyer, Mr Anil Balchandani, told the Chief Justice that she has been “overwhelmed by the events of the past month”.

In oral grounds released by the court, the Chief Justice said: “He has further drawn to my attention the fact that uppermost in his client’s mind is the fact that she has not been home to Indonesia for the last four years and that she naturally wishes to be able to return as soon as conveniently possible.

“This, Mr Balchandani explained, is one of the reasons she had initially considered withdrawing the originating summons seeking an order from me directing that the matters alleged against the DPPs in question be referred to a disciplinary tribunal for investigation.”

However, Ms Parti is “somewhat torn” as she believes that the DPPs should answer the allegations she has raised in her affidavit.

At the hearing, State Counsel Kristy Tan, for the Attorney-General’s Chambers, said that the DPPs in question will not object if the Chief Justice refers the matter to the disciplinary tribunal for investigation as that would give them the opportunity to present their account of what transpired and to explain themselves fully.

In a statement to the media, the AGC said the two legal service officers “welcome the chance to present a full and transparent account of what transpired during the trial” and “will cooperate fully in any inquiry”.

The high-profile case sparked public outcry, with questions raised about the evidence-gathering process and the way in which the trial was conducted.

An internal review is being conducted at the Attorney-Generals’ Chambers (AGC), while Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam is expected to make a ministerial statement in Parliament.

Ms Parti, who worked for the Liews for nine years, was sentenced to 26 months’ jail in March last year after she was found guilty by a district judge of four charges of stealing $34,000 worth of items from the family.

Represented by Mr Balchandani, she appealed against her conviction and sentence in a three-day hearing that was held in November last year and August this year.

In June, Ms Parti filed a complaint against Deputy Public Prosecutors Tan Wee Hao and Tan Yanying.

Mr Balchandani was appointed to act for her in relation to the complaint in July.

He then filed an amended version, seeking for leave to be granted by the Chief Justice for an investigation to be made into the misconduct complaint against the legal service officers.

Ms Parti’s application was taken out on an ex parte basis, which means only the applicant can be heard, unless the court says otherwise.

The AGC later filed an application seeking to be heard and to submit evidence notes and other documents related to the case.

One of the issues raised by High Court judge Chan Seng Onn in his judgment related to an “incomplete” demonstration carried out by the prosecutors on a DVD player during the trial.

Ms Parti had contended that the family allowed her to take the player as it was spoilt.

During the trial, the prosecutors showed Ms Parti that the device could play a video digitally stored in the hard disk.

However, during the appeal, it was shown that the device could not play DVDs.

Justice Chan said if the prosecution had known of this defect, it should have fully disclosed it. If not, the trial court could be misled into thinking that the player was in good working condition when questions were put to Ms Parti, he said.

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