In his Ministerial Statement on Wednesday (Nov. 4), Minister for Home Affairs and Law K Shanmugam pointed out that Parti Liyani "clearly intended to take" certain items her employers said were stolen, and that the chain of custody did not affect every single item in the case.
A chain of custody refers to the order in which items of evidence have been handled during the investigation, and proving that an item has been properly handled through an unbroken Chain of Custody is required for it to be legally considered as evidence in court.
According to Shanmugam, even if the items possibly affected by the chain in custody was removed, there would still be the fourth theft charge against Parti Liyani, relating to items in Heather Liew's possession that was found on Parti when she returned to Singapore from Jakarta.
The break in chain of custody was one of the main reasons Liyani was acquitted
One of the major reasons for the High Court to acquit Liyani was due to a break in chain of custody of the items allegedly stolen by Liyani.
The High Court found that there had been a break in the chain of the items, from Oct. 29, 2016, when they were found in the boxes by the Liew family, to Dec. 3, 2016, when the Police visited the scene.
According to Shanmugam, the Liew family were also using the items in the boxes during this period.
"The High Court therefore said the case of theft is not proven, because it can't be proven that Ms Liyani took them. There could have been interference when the boxes were with the Liew's," said Shanmugam.
Not all items in the case were affected by the break in chain of custody
However, Shanmugam emphasised that there were items that were not affected by the break in chain of custody, including a Prada bag and a pair of Gucci sunglasses claimed by Heather, daughter-in-law of Liew Mun Leong.
He said that there is a "misunderstanding among some" that all the items in the case were affected by the break in chain of custody, which is not true.
Shanmugam said that even if the items possibly affected by the break in chain of custody were removed, there would still be this theft charge remaining against Liyani.
However, Shanmugam also said that the Police could have acted faster to prevent the break in chain of custody in the first place, and that the Police admitted that there was "a lapse in this area of investigation".
Top image via Gov.sg/YouTube.