KUALA LUMPUR: Anti-death-penalty activists have asked the Singapore government to admit that it wrongfully executed a young Malaysian in 2003 and demanded that it release British writer Alan Shadrake, whose latest book sheds new light on the case. “Singapore has murdered an innocent person in cold blood,” said N Surendran of Lawyers for Liberty in reference to the hanging of M Vignes, who was 21 when he was arrested in 2001 on suspicion of drug trafficking.
Surendran was speaking to reporters outside the Singapore High Commission, where his organisation and the Civil Rights Committee of the Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall had submitted a memorandum demanding the abolition of the death penalty and a halt to all pending executions.
Vignes was hanged in Changi Prison on Sept 26, 2003. Shadrake is awaiting trial for criminal defamation and contempt of court for allegations he made in his book against the Singapore government. He was arrested a day after the launching of the book, Once a Jolly Hangman: Singapore Justice in the Dock.
“Alan’s book revealed a shocking truth,” Surendran said. “We now know the key witness in Vignes’s trial was himself being investigated for rape, sodomy and later convicted of corruption.”
Surendran said Singapore authorities had maliciously concealed these “crucial facts” from Vignes’s lawyer, M Ravi.
“Worse still, when Ravi asked Chief Justice Yong Pung How whether an innocent man could be hanged because of procedural matters, he replied ‘Yes, the answer is yes’. This is as if the CJ has himself strangled him with his own hands.”
The memorandum was submitted to the High Commission’s first secretary, Walter Chia. It demanded that the Singapore government:
* acknowledge the miscarriage of justice that led to the execution of Vignes;
* clear Vignes’s name and make amends to his family;
* institute immediate reforms in the Singapore judiciary to ensure Singaporean judges appreciate and respect human life and liberty;
* take appropriate action according to the Singapore Constitution against Chief Justice Yong;
* halt all pending executions in Singapore and commute death sentences to imprisonment; and
* withdraw all pending criminal charges against Shadrake and apologise for his wrongful arrest and imprisonment.
Speaking to reporters, Vignes’ father, V Mourthi, said he still felt as if his son was alive.
“I know he is innocent,” he said. “I want to know what the Singapore government is going to do about this. I hope the truth will finally come out.”
High Commission of Singapore,
Jln Tun Razak,
MEMORANDUM OF PROTEST
Wrongful execution of M’sian Vignes Mourthi and malicious prosecution of Alan Shadrake
1. On 26 September 2003, Vignes Mourthi was hanged in Changi prison for alleged drug trafficking.
2. The key testimony on which he was convicted was the evidence of one Sgt Rajkumar who arrested Vignes.
3. Alan Shadrake in his book ” The Jolly Hangman” reveals the shocking truth about the trial and conviction of Vignes. At the time Sgt Rajkumar gave the sworn testimony in court which convicted Vignes, Rajkumar was under investigation for rape, sodomy and bribery! Subsequently he was convicted of corruption and sent to prison for 15 months. Vignes was hanged by the neck until he died on the testimony of this man.
4. In a breathtakingly malicious act, Singapore police and authorities concealed this crucial fact from Vignes’ lawyer M.Ravi. Vignes went to the gallows bitterly denying to the end that he had ever trafficked in drugs. He was only 21 years old when arrested.
5. The callousness and indifference to human life by the Singapore government and judiciary is shown by the now notorious remarks of Chief Justice Yong Pung How. When asked by lawyer M.Ravi whether the innocent Vignes can be hanged due to merely procedural matters, the Chief Justice replied ” Yes, the answer is yes.”
1. On 19 July 2010, a day after Alan launched his book in Singapore, police arrested him for Criminal Defamation and Contempt of Court.
2. Alan was interrogated by police 8 to 10 hours a day despite a weak heart, and now faces trials which may may send him to prison for years. He remains resolute and has said ” I will not be cowed.” His only crime is revealing the truth to the people of Singapore and the world.
We the undersigned demand that the Singapore government:
a. acknowledges the enormous miscarriage of justice that happened in Vignes’ case;
b. clears the sullied name of Vignes Mourthi and make amends to his suffering family;
c. institute immediate reforms in the Singapore judiciary to ensure Singaporean judges appreciate and respect human life and freedom;
d. take appropriate action according to the Constitution against Chief Justice Yong Pung How ;
e. halt all pending executions in Singapore and commute death sentences to imprisonment;
f. cease immediately the malicious persecution of British author Alan Shadrake.
LAWYERS FOR LIBERTY
Civil Rights Committee KUALA LUMPUR AND SELANGOR CHINESE ASSEMBLY HALL