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 recognized for becoming challenging on crime, with some of the harshest punishments in the world, together with a required loss of life sentence for specific offences, such as drug-connected crimes.

A single law firm, M Ravi, has been getting on the condition in significant-profile circumstances for many years.

Ravi has been diagnosed as bipolar and is at this time suspended from practising law on mental well being grounds, but he has been intensely concerned in the scenario of Nagaenthran Dharmalingam, a Malaysian male with a discovering incapacity located responsible of drug offences and sentenced to loss of life.

A past-minute enchantment that captivated all over the world awareness gave Nagaenthran a reprieve, and he contracted COVID-19 in November of last yr, further delaying the approach.

Singapore’s Court of Appeal heard his situation on March 1, and has reserved judgement right until an undisclosed date.

Ravi spoke to Al Jazeera about why he requires on this kind of challenging cases. The interview has been edited for size and clarity.

Al Jazeera: You are a person of the handful of attorneys involved in the defence of people today experiencing the death penalty. Why do you acquire on this kind of conditions?

M Ravi: My primary target was predominantly professional and company circumstances, on the lookout at intellectual assets, know-how, that type of things.

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

On the eve of the execution, I requested the then Main Justice if we could reopen this scenario. He reported that the scenario had run its system and there was little I could do.

I then questioned [that] if I could present that he was harmless, would Mourthi still be hanged? He reported indeed. That was a horrifying assertion. I saw the way the weak and the oppressed had been currently being taken care of. It brought me to combat from the demise penalty in Singapore.

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

Al Jazeera: The Law Culture of Singapore has suspended you from practising law on psychiatric grounds next your analysis of bipolar condition. What has happened?

M Ravi: As I was planning to argue Nagaenthran’s enchantment, my medical professional stated out of the blue that I am unwell. And that’s it, the Law Culture said I have to halt as the medical doctor observed that I am unwell.

I’m however performing do the job, making ready bundles of papers. If I don’t do that, Nagaenthran will be in the gallows.

The psychiatrists that have spoken to me from all around the world, and other individuals I have spoken to, claimed that I do not will need remedy and just have to have rest.

Of system I am disappointed. I was originally explained to by my physician that I can however argue Nagaenthran’s situation and my MC [medical note] should close on January 13. Then he prolonged it to March 13. And the court is not going to hold out, the Lawyer Normal is pressing that Nagaenthran’s situation must go in advance and be rushed through.

Al Jazeera: What other challenges do you experience when getting on these complicated circumstances, likely up towards the Singapore condition?

M Ravi: The Legislation Society and the Attorney Typical have applied to the Courtroom of Charm to suspend me from practice – or even strike me off.

That’s because of a situation in 2020, the scenario of Gobi Avedian. He was meant to be executed, but I managed to prevent 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 holds messages resolved 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 particularly frustrated since I disappointed their scheme of the dying penalty. The Courtroom of Appeal acknowledged that this is the very first miscarriage of justice case in Singapore.

In this situation, the Court of Appeal reported we have made a slip-up. The query I asked the Legal professional General is ‘What if I experienced not appear to practice regulation in this scenario?’ Gobi would have been gone. I criticised the full administration of the death penalty.

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

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

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

This boy was supposed to be executed and, on the eve of the execution, I filed to prevent it.

It took three, four decades, but lastly the legislation was amended [Yong was spared]. The law now offers judges some discretion.

So there is a precursor to explain to us that points can improve. Singapore is ripe to repeal the loss of life penalty, most nations around the world in the Southeast Asia region really don’t practise it. Philippines is a no, Myanmar no, Thailand no, Indonesia sure but however gradual.

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

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

Al Jazeera: How assured are you and your crew of Nagaenthran’s appeal?

M Ravi: It is a humungous quantity of perform. There are five Deputy Public Prosecutors, they are all at the best. Singapore finds a whole lot of sources to destroy individuals.

I believe I will be capable to acquire. Five judges are [hearing] the case. If it is a shut circumstance and not major and open, they wouldn’t even appear.

Secondly, psychiatric jail experts from the Uk and Australia have given their pro viewpoint to say that the methods applied by the Institute of Mental Overall health in Singapore are backwards. The assessments are all mistaken. The way in which they are administered are quite childish.