Singapore

Lawyer Eugene Thuraisingam in rare case of court contempt

The Attorney-General (AG) is taking prominent lawyer Eugene Thuraisingam to court for contempt over remarks made on Facebook in May that allegedly scandalised the judiciary.

The High Court earlier granted leave for the hearing to proceed next week in this rare case of court contempt against a lawyer.

MrThuraisingam, 41, had posted the remarks just after midnight on May 19 - the same day convicted drug trafficker Muhammad Ridzuan Md Ali was executed at Changi Prison.

He took down the material after being alerted by the AG's Chambers (AGC) and the Law Society that they were in contempt of court.

He also apologised unconditionally and withdrew the statements unequivocally in remarks on his Facebook.

At issue is whether portions of the posting risked undermining public confidence in the integrity of the Singapore courts and the administration of justice.

AGC's counsel are expected to argue in court his conduct amounted to contempt and will seek the possible penalties.

MrThuraisingam, to be represented by Senior Counsel Ang Cheng Hock at the hearing, said yesterday: "I made a mistake, and I unconditionally apologised for and withdrew what I wrote. As I made a mistake and am in the wrong, I will accept responsibility for it in Court and respect the outcome.

"I would like to put this behind me quickly and focus on fighting hard for my cases in court pro bono under the Legal Assistance for Capital Offences Scheme (Lasco)."

He has represented accused people facing the gallows under the scheme and last year received the Lasco Award for his service to the scheme.

Earlier this week, the Court of Appeal ordered a review of its decision two years ago to convict Nigerian Ilechukwu Uchechukwu Chukwudi after he was acquitted of bringing nearly 2kg of methamphetamine into Singapore.

MrThuraisingam, who defended Ilechukwu, had filed a criminal motion to reopen the case by relying on a psychiatric report prepared by the prosecution for sentencing arguments.

The contempt case against him may be one of the last under the common law, which is based on precedents, before codified contempt laws under the Administration of Justice (Protection) Act passed by Parliament last year kick in.

The Law Ministry said the Act is not yet in force and will commence in the near future.

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