Singapore

Diplomat fails to take molest case to Court of Appeal

A Saudi Arabian diplomat, who is in jail for groping a hotel intern, failed in his bid to take his case to the Court of Appeal yesterday, while his lawyer was ordered to personally pay costs of $5,000 for an "improper and unreasonable" application.

Bander Yahya A. Alzahrani, 40, was sentenced to 26 months and a week's jail and four strokes of the cane in February last year for molesting a 20-year-old employee at a Sentosa hotel while on holiday with his family.

His appeal against conviction and sentence was dismissed by the High Court in July. He started serving his jail term on Aug 11.

Despite exhausting his avenue of appeal, he filed an application for leave to refer three questions to the Court of Appeal, in a procedure that is reserved for questions of law of public interest.

The first question related to the issue of a lawyer who acts contrary to his client's instructions. The second and third dealt with whether expert opinion was necessary to determine the state of mind of an an alleged victim of molestation.

Yesterday, a three-judge Court of Appeal dismissed his application, saying it was "self-evident" that all his questions were questions of fact, and not questions of law of public interest.

Alzahrani's lawyer, Mr Peter Pang, was also rebuked for proceeding with the case just because his client and the Saudi Arabian embassy had insisted on doing so. - THE STRAITS TIMES

COURT & CRIME