S’pore Court of Appeal slams lawyer for submitting “unreasonable” appeal for Saudi diplomat molester

It was, essentially, a complete waste of their time.

By Sulaiman Daud | February 9, 2018

Let this be a lesson to all lawyers out there — don’t file legal applications that have no merit just because your client demands it.

Bander Yahya A. Alzahrani is a diplomat attached to the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Beijing, China. He was convicted for a case of molest here in Feb. 2017.

Here’s what happened:

In Aug. 2016, he visited Singapore for a holiday with his family and stayed at a hotel in Sentosa. While there, he molested a then-20-year-old hotel intern.

Alzahrani was sentenced to 26 months and one week in jail, and four strokes of the cane. In July 2017, the High Court dismissed his appeal against his conviction and sentence.

He then began serving his prison sentence in August last year, after he tried his luck a third time with deferring his sentence after two previous appeals to defer it were granted.

But the 40-year-old tried again, demanding that his lawyer Pang Giap Oon file an application to refer questions of law, allegedly of public interest (when actually they were completely not) to the Court of Appeal.

And finally, about a year later, the Court of Appeal — led by Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, no less — not only roundly dismissed the application, but also took the time to lay the smackdown on Alzahrani’s defence lawyer Pang Giap Oon… for agreeing to file this application that even he knew to be a waste of time.

Insisted on proceeding

The reason? According to Channel NewsAsia, Pang revealed he had advised both Alzahrani and the Royal Saudi Arabian Embassy that the application was likely to fail. However, according to him, they “insisted that he should proceed”.

Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, who presided over the hearing, rebuked him for abuse of process.

Menon noted that Pang had already been informed by the High Court that the questions he put forward were not questions of law, and were therefore not likely to be allowed.

By doing so anyway, Pang had conducted himself in an unreasonable manner.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Hay Hung Chun, who was acting for the Attorney-General’s Chambers, also said, according to Today:

“If he believes that it is not a question of law, he should inform his clients. And if they persist, maybe he should not act for them.”

Hay added that Pang, as the defence counsel, owes an ultimate duty to the court, and cannot be a mere mouthpiece for his client.

In consequence, Pang was ordered to pay $5,000 in costs for filing the application, which will be given to the Law Society of Singapore.

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Top image by Sonu Mehta/Hindustan Times via Getty Images.

About Sulaiman Daud

Sulaiman believes that we can be heroes, if just for one day. His favourite Doctor is Peter Capaldi's Twelve. In his spare time he writes about film, pop-culture and international politics, which you are very welcome to read here.

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