SINGAPORE — The Public Prosecutor has recused himself from reviewing the criminal prosecution of Changi Airport Group chairman Liew Mun Leong’s former maid of nine years Parti Liyani, who was last week acquitted by the High Court on four charges of theft and on Tuesday (8 September) acquitted of one count of fraudulent possession of property.
In a statement to the media on Wednesday, the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) said Lucien Wong recused himself from reviewing the case “for personal reasons” on Saturday, a day after the High Court verdict.
The two men do not have a personal relationship, although they both previously held positions at CapitaLand Limited, AGC said.
Wong sat on the the company’s board of directors while Liew was then its president and chief executive. Wong stepped down from the board in January 2006.
The AGC review is now being led by Deputy Attorney-General Hri Kumar Nair, it added.
In its statement, the office of the Public Prosecutor also said that neither Attorney-General Wong nor his two deputies were involved in any prosecutorial decision regarding the charges in the case.
“This case was among those routinely handled by AGC which did not require the involvement of the AG (Attorney-General) or the DAGs (Deputy Attorneys-General),” it added. The other DAG is Lionel Yee.
Government reviewing shortcomings
On Sunday, AGC said it would study High Court judge Chan Seng Onn’s grounds to see if further action ought to be taken in the case.
The same day, the Ministry of Manpower said it was in consultation with the AGC to decide if further action ought to be taken; the ministry had already issued a caution to Liew for illegally deploying Parti, 46.
Meanwhile, the police also on Sunday said it was studying the judgment. “Several observations about police’s investigations have been raised. The police are looking into them.”
And on Tuesday, Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam said the government will review shortcomings which led to Parti’s criminal prosecution.
“Something has gone wrong in the chain of events. We have to look at that, and deal with what went wrong,” he said.
“We have to find out what happened, why it happened and then deal with it,” he added.
‘Improper motive’ by Liew family
Among Justice Chan’s observations in the case was that there was a break in the chain of custody of evidence. Among other things, a police investigator attended to the scene of the alleged crime only five weeks later and told the Liew family that they were free to make use of the evidence.
Police statements had also been taken in a mix of English and Bahasa Melayu, without an official Bahasa Indonesia interpreter present, and Parti was given poor quality black and white photos of items during the recording of police statements.
In his 100-page judgment, Justice Chan also found that the Liew family may have had an “improper motive” in filing a police report against their long-time maid. The Indonesian had threatened to lodge a complaint against the Liew family for unlawfully assigning her cleaning duties at Liew’s son Karl’s house and office. Liew and Karl filed a police report two days after Parti left Singapore.
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