Singapore

Parti Liyani’s bid for $10k in compensation dismissed

Ex-domestic worker acquitted of stealing did not prove prosecution was 'frivolous or vexatious'

The High Court judge who acquitted former domestic worker Parti Liyani last year of stealing from her employer has dismissed her application seeking compensation of $10,000 from the Attorney-General's Chambers.

Justice Chan Seng Onn said yesterday that Ms Parti has not succeeded in proving on a balance of probability that her prosecution was "frivolous or vexatious".

The judge said in a 102-page judgment: "The decision to bring the charges against Parti was based on sufficient evidence such that there is a case fit to bring before the court.

"Parti has not established at any time during the proceedings that there were any new developments such that her prosecution ought to have been immediately discontinued mid-way through the trial."

Ms Parti was originally accused of stealing more than $50,000 worth of items from the family of prominent businessman Liew Mun Leong. She was found guilty by a district court of four theft charges and sentenced to 26 months in jail but was acquitted by Justice Chan in September last year on appeal.

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Ms Parti, who returned to Indonesia in January this year, then applied for compensation under Section 359 (3) of the Criminal Procedure Code - the first person here to do so.

The provision, which was introduced in 2010, states that if an accused is acquitted of any charge and if the court is satisfied that the prosecution was frivolous or vexatious, the court may order a compensation sum of up to $10,000.

She relied on assertions against the prosecutors' conduct of the proceedings, assertions against the sufficiency of evidence supporting the commencement and continuation of her prosecution, and assertions of malice or dishonesty.

However, Justice Chan said these assertions fail to meet the high threshold for establishing that Ms Parti's prosecution was frivolous or vexatious.

The main issue before the judge was the interpretation and scope of Section 359 (3).

He noted that in Singapore's criminal justice system, it is not the case that an acquitted person is entitled as of right to compensation.

The judge said the purpose of Section 359 (3) was to provide some redress for the legal wrong done to the acquitted person arising from a "frivolous or vexatious" prosecution.

"A prosecution that is brought or continued against an accused person in good faith and with sufficient evidence... does not become a 'frivolous or vexatious' prosecution simply because the prosecutor's conduct at the proceedings is unacceptable," he said.

The burden of proof lies on the applicant, he said.

Justice Chan said Ms Parti's dissatisfaction with the prosecutors' conduct did not render the prosecution frivolous or vexatious.

Among other things, the former domestic worker asserted that the prosecutors had "nitpicked" in cross-examination questions and failed to objectively value the items.

Justice Chan said: "This court is not the correct forum to air grievances about the manner the prosecution was conducted by the DPPs (deputy public prosecutors)."

Any misconduct should be the subject of disciplinary proceedings, he added.

COURT & CRIME