The two Deputy Public Prosecutors (DPPs) involved in Parti Liyani’s theft trial will be represented by Senior Counsels in disciplinary proceedings brought by the former domestic worker against them, The Straits Times reported on Saturday (5 December).
Ms Parti was accused of stealing 114 items worth S$50,856 belonging to her former employer, ex-Changi Airport Group chairman Liew Mun Leong, as well as his family members, namely his son Karl Liew and daughter-in-law Heather Lim Mei Ern and their daughter Liew Cheng May.
The Indonesian national’s conviction was overturned by Justice Chan Seng Onn of the High Court in September this year.
Ms Parti will be represented by solicitors Peter Low and Choo Zheng Xi in the disciplinary proceedings against DPPs Tan Wee Hao and Tan Yanying.
Anil Balchandani, the lawyer who represented her in her trial and appeal pro bono, could be a witness.
A spokesperson from the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) told ST that Ms Tan has engaged senior counsel Davinder Singh from Davinder Singh Chambers while Mr Tan will be represented by senior counsel Jason Chan from Allen & Gledhill.
The AGC spokesman explained that the DPPs are being represented by lawyers from the bar instead of counsels from the AGC, as the Legal Profession (Disciplinary Tribunal) Rules do not allow state counsels to represent the DPPs.
However, state counsels have been allowed to be present at the proceedings during the leave stage to provide assistance to the Court where appropriate and “enable the DPPs to understand the complaint that was being made against them,” said the spokesman.
Both DPPs will face a disciplinary tribunal of two members appointed by Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon.
The hearing is expected to begin in 2021.
In October, the Chief Justice gave Ms Parti the green light for her complaint against the two DPP’s to be heard.
It was reported that Ms Parti’s originating summons was taken out on ex-parte basis, meaning the decision is decided by a judge without requiring all of the parties involved to be present.
This prompted the AGC to seek to be represented at the application hearing, and has also applied to submit court notes related to the case and relevant extracts of evidence given by Ms Parti and other witnesses.
The AGC also applied to place extracts from the record of proceedings in the State Courts trial, including relevant extracts of the court notes from part of the appeal hearing on 1 November last year by Ms Parti before Justice Chan.
CJ Menon in a written judgement stated–in reference to a Pioneer DVD player Ms Parti was accused of stealing–that Ms Parti “contends that the DPPs had, in their conduct of the trial, concealed material facts and thereby created the false impression that the device was fully functional”.
“She contends that but for the false impression that had been conveyed, she would not have agreed, under cross-examination, that the device was operational.
“On this basis, the DPPs suggested that she had lied about the circumstances in which the device came to be in her possession. However, if she had been apprised of all the facts, there would have been no basis for the DPPs to suggest that she had been lying,” ruled CJ Menon.
Parti seeks $71,000 compensation
Ms Parti is also seeking a compensation order against the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) over the criminal proceedings brought against her.
Mr Anil estimated that Ms Parti had suffered around S$71,000 in losses as a result of being unable to work due to the theft proceedings for the past four years.
S$41,000 from the estimated sum is for Ms Parti’s salaries including contractual increments over the past four years. The amount was calculated based on her experience of 20 years as a domestic worker.
The sum also includes S$29,220 for her accommodation expenses over four years at a shelter run by the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (HOME).
However, Justice Chan Seng Onn–the High Court judge who overturned Ms Parti’s conviction and sentencing–noted that the cost of court hearings for compensation order would exceed S$10,000, as the court needs to hear arguments on whether the prosecution was frivolous or vexatious.
The judge subsequently recommended out-of-court mediation with a third party to help both parties settle on a confidential amount of compensation.
Mr Anil replied at the time that while he will consider the prospect of mediation, he and his client are of the view that there has been “some amount of injustice that we wish the court to hear and order compensation”.
Mr Anil also told Justice Chan that Ms Parti has decided not to seek compensation from her former employer Liew Mun Leong.
He explained that Ms Parti had instructed him not to “add more to his problems”, particularly in light of Mr Liew’s resignation from his position as Changi Airport Group chairman, among other roles.
Separately, when asked about how much this legal battle would have cost if it were not taken up pro bono, Mr Anil said it would come up to about S$150,000.