Rushed appeal hearings in Nagaenthran’s case a blatant denial of due process

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Graphic: amnestyusa.org

Lawyers for Liberty refers to the stay of execution granted by the Singapore High Court in Nagaenthran’s case, staying the 10 November execution date.

We are dismayed that within hours of the stay being granted, the court fixed 9 November, 2.30pm for the hearing of the appeal. Another application filed on 8 November by Nagaenthran’s lawyers for a psychiatric assessment of his deteriorating mental state was also fixed for 2.30pm on 9 November. If both matters are dismissed, then the stay order would no longer have effect.

These court directions unusually all came late in the evening on 8 November.

Incredibly and unreasonably, the court of appeal directed late in the evening of 8 November that written submissions and affidavits must be filed by 10am on 9 November morning.

No lawyer can be reasonably expected to file written submissions and prepare and file affidavits overnight. It is a plainly absurd direction from the court with what appears to be the pre-determined intent to dismiss both sets of hearings on 9 November.

These unreasonable court directions and unholy rush to have both hearings heard in less than 24 hours amounts to a blatant denial of due process to Nagaenthran contrary to Article 9 of the Singapore Constitution. No criminal justice system in any country which upholds the rule of law rushes through criminal appeals in this manner; all the more, in a death penalty case.

What is the need for this disturbing hurry? Was it to enable Nagaenthran to be executed on 10 November in defiance of civilised opinion?

We strongly urge that Nagaenthran’s lawyers be given adequate and reasonable time to prepare their case, which involves complex issues and the life of a mentally disabled human being. And meanwhile the stay of execution granted on 8 November must be maintained until these hearings are properly and fairly disposed off. To do otherwise will do irremediable damage to the reputation of the Singapore judiciary and government. – 8 November

READ MORE:  Stay Nagaenthran's execution until Singapore president decides on clemency pleas

N Surendran is an adviser to Lawyers for Liberty

Update: The appeal has been adjourned and Nagaenthran has been given an indefinite stay of execution after testing positive for Covid

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