SINGAPORE, Aug 5 — After some seven hours of deliberation and at a hearing that went past midnight, the Court of Appeal denied an eleventh-hour stay of execution for convicted drug trafficker Abdul Rahim Shapiee, who was among 24 death-row inmates suing the Attorney-General (AG).
This means that Abdul Rahim, 45, will be hanged on Friday (Aug 5).
The Singaporean had told the court that he filed a complaint on Wednesday against his trial lawyer for failing to call a witness to testify in his defence, which was the basis for his bid to postpone his execution.
However, the apex court judges called this an “abuse of process”, that it was “plainly an afterthought” given that the argument first surfaced just days before his scheduled hanging.
The hearing started at 2.30pm on Thursday, ended at 5pm and — in an unprecedented fashion — the judges deliberated on the outcome for about seven hours until just before midnight when hearing resumed.
Members of the public, reporters, death penalty activists and friends of the inmates were present in the courtroom, while the inmates and judges appeared over video-conferencing platform Zoom.
Earlier on Monday, Abdul Rahim and the other inmates filed a civil lawsuit against the AG, claiming that their access to lawyers for appeals and reviews of their cases had been obstructed.
They argued that the power of the courts to order costs against defence lawyers made them afraid to take up legal challenges.
The inmates sought a declaration that the costs provisions were unconstitutional and therefore null, void and unlawful. They also sought damages for breach of the defendant’s statutory duty to allow “access to justice”.
The lawsuit was thrown out on Wednesday by a High Court judge who said that it was “plainly unsustainable and unmeritorious”.
The 24 inmates, mostly convicted drug traffickers, then filed an appeal against the decision.
The three-judge Court of Appeal — Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, Judge of Appeal Tay Yong Kwang and Justice Woo Bih Li — dismissed the appeal on Friday. — TODAY