The Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) has proceeded on its contempt of court case against Mr Li Shengwu.
The first pre-trial conference (PTC) took place at the Supreme Court on Monday (13 November).
Mr Li, 32, who is the nephew of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and the eldest son of Mr Lee Hsien Yang, has appointed lawyer Abraham Vergis of Providence Law to act on his behalf.
He was not being charged with a crime. The AGC, instead, took up an originating summons, typically used in civil cases.
However, since the court can impose a jail sentence in contempt of court cases, such cases are sometimes considered “quasi-criminal” cases.
The suit is in relation to a private Facebook post that Mr Li made on his Faceboook account, made viewable only by him and his friends.
On the post, he wrote that “the Singapore government is very litigious and has a pliant court system” which was referring to the constraints of what the media can report on the matter surrounding the public dispute of his family.
The AGC had earlier demanded Mr Li to apologise, in which he declined as he stressed that his post had been a private one and also contended that the post, when read in context, did not constitute contempt of court.
However, he eventually agreed to amend the post.
According to the AGC, the post was an “egregious and baseless attack” on the judiciary, adding that it applied for and was granted the court’s permission to initiate contempt of court proceedings in August.
Assistant Registrar James Elisha Lee has set the next pre-trial conference at Monday’s conference for 4 December to give Mr Li’s counsel time to review the court papers filed to date on this case.
Mr Vergis said that the AGC has not stated to the court what it was asking for, whether a fine or a jail term.
The AGC was represented by Senior Counsel Francis Ng at the Supreme Court on Monday. However, he declined to comment on the matter to the media.
In response to media queries to Mr Vergis on whether Mr Li intends to return to Singapore if a jail sentence is imposed, the lawyer said that it is premature to be discussing this as the case is still in its early stages
Mr Li left Singapore for the United States on 23 July 17. He told international news agency, Reuters that he left more than a week sooner than what he had planned because he thought he might be detained by the authorities for this case.
He said in the interview that it is possible that one can be detained and interrogated for some time without a lawyer in Singapore, adding, “My friends had warned me that they were concerned for my safety if I remained in Singapore.”