The Singapore lawyer who defends those facing the gallows | Death Penalty News

The Singapore lawyer who defends those facing the gallows | Death Penalty News

Singapore is regarded for getting tricky on criminal offense, with some of the harshest punishments in the planet, like a mandatory dying sentence for certain offences, like drug-similar crimes.

One particular attorney, M Ravi, has been using on the state in substantial-profile cases for decades.

Ravi has been identified as bipolar and is at present suspended from practising law on mental health and fitness grounds, but he has been heavily associated in the scenario of Nagaenthran Dharmalingam, a Malaysian gentleman with a learning incapacity identified guilty of drug offences and sentenced to death.

A last-minute attractiveness that attracted throughout the world notice gave Nagaenthran a reprieve, and he contracted COVID-19 in November of past year, additional delaying the approach.

Singapore’s Court docket of Enchantment listened to his case on March 1, and has reserved judgement right up until an undisclosed date.

Ravi spoke to Al Jazeera about why he can take on this sort of challenging situations. The job interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Al Jazeera: You are 1 of the handful of lawyers associated in the defence of folks dealing with the death penalty. Why do you get on this sort of conditions?

M Ravi: My original concentrate was generally industrial and company scenarios, looking at intellectual home, technologies, that form of stuff.

In 2003, when a Malaysian boy Vignes Mourthi was facing the loss of life penalty [for smuggling 27 grams of heroin into the country], I mounted a final-moment constitutional challenge at the ask for of the former opposition leader in Singapore, Mr J B Jeyaretnam. He’s almost like a Nelson Mandela of Singapore.

On the eve of the execution, I questioned the then Chief Justice if we could reopen this case. He said that the circumstance had run its class and there was little I could do.

I then asked [that] if I could exhibit that he was harmless, would Mourthi nevertheless be hanged? He claimed yes. That was a horrifying statement. I noticed the way the weak and the oppressed were being currently being handled. It introduced me to struggle versus the loss of life penalty in Singapore.

The Singapore lawyer who defends those facing the gallows | Death Penalty News
M Ravi (right) with the late J B Jeyaretnam, a outstanding lawyer and the initially opposition politician to be elected to Singapore’s parliament in 1981 [File: Vivek Prakash/Reuters]

Al Jazeera: The Legislation Culture of Singapore has suspended you from practising law on psychiatric grounds adhering to your analysis of bipolar condition. What has transpired?

M Ravi: As I was planning to argue Nagaenthran’s charm, my physician said suddenly that I am unwell. And which is it, the Regulation Modern society reported I have to prevent as the doctor located that I am unwell.

I’m nevertheless doing perform, planning bundles of papers. If I really don’t do that, Nagaenthran will be in the gallows.

The psychiatrists that have spoken to me from about the planet, and other persons I have spoken to, claimed that I really do not require treatment method and just need rest.

Of system I am disappointed. I was at first advised by my doctor that I can however argue Nagaenthran’s situation and my MC [medical note] should end on January 13. Then he extended it to March 13. And the court is not likely to wait around, the Legal professional Normal is urgent that Nagaenthran’s circumstance should really go in advance and be rushed by means of.

Al Jazeera: What other problems do you confront when using on these tricky circumstances, going up against the Singapore point out?

M Ravi: The Legislation Culture and the Lawyer Basic have used to the Court docket of Attractiveness to suspend me from apply – or even strike me off.

Which is for the reason that of a situation in 2020, the situation of Gobi Avedian. He was supposed to be executed, but I managed to halt it. [Avedian was instead sentenced to 15 years jail and 10 strokes of the cane.]

M Ravi in car on his way to Changi Prison with a stack of letters for a defendant facing execution
M Ravi retains messages dealt with to Australian loss of life row prisoner Nguyen Tuong Van on his way to Changi Prison in Singapore in 2005. [File: Vivek Prakash/Reuters]

The authorities are exceptionally annoyed mainly because I disappointed their scheme of the dying penalty. The Courtroom of Appeal acknowledged that this is the initial miscarriage of justice case in Singapore.

In this circumstance, the Court of Charm explained we have created a error. The question I asked the Lawyer Basic is ‘What if I had not come to apply legislation in this case?’ Gobi would have been absent. I criticised the overall administration of the death penalty.

Then there is the media. They consistently say that I am mad. There is psychological harassment about my psychiatric ailment.

Al Jazeera: Will Singapore ever get rid of the dying penalty?

M Ravi: It will. Just look at the scenario of Yong Vui Kong. He was only 19 when he was caught [trafficking heroin into Singapore in 2007].

This boy was meant to be executed and, on the eve of the execution, I submitted to stop it.

It took 3, 4 decades, but finally the legislation was amended [Yong was spared]. The regulation now offers judges some discretion.

So there is a precursor to notify us that issues can adjust. Singapore is ripe to repeal the loss of life penalty, most international locations in the Southeast Asia area really do not practise it. Philippines is a no, Myanmar no, Thailand no, Indonesia indeed but continue to sluggish.

And now we have Richard Branson getting them on and telling other wealthy men and women about it.

I assume they have no selection but to get rid of it.

Al Jazeera: How self-assured are you and your workforce of Nagaenthran’s charm?

M Ravi: It is a humungous sum of perform. There are 5 Deputy Public Prosecutors, they are all at the major. Singapore finds a ton of means to eliminate persons.

I imagine I will be ready to get. 5 judges are [hearing] the case. If it’s a shut circumstance and not severe and open, they would not even appear.

Next, psychiatric jail specialists from the British isles and Australia have presented their qualified viewpoint to say that the approaches applied by the Institute of Mental Well being in Singapore are backwards. The assessments are all wrong. The manner in which they are administered are extremely childish.