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In twist, Singaporean scheduled for execution named witness in probe against prominent lawyer

Lawyer M Ravi says Nazeri Lajim, whose execution is fixed for this Friday, is a crucial witness in an ongoing investigation.

Our Regional Correspondent
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Rights lawyer M Ravi (left) and Nazeri Lajim, who is slated to be executed this Friday.
Rights lawyer M Ravi (left) and Nazeri Lajim, who is slated to be executed this Friday.

An investigation launched by Singapore authorities against a prominent human rights lawyer has created some hope for the life of death row inmate Nazeri Lajim, just two days before his execution scheduled for this Friday.

On Oct 5 last year, M Ravi wrote on behalf of Nazeri and 16 Malay inmates whom he represented in an ethnic bias suit against the government, in a letter urging the attorney-general to cite Home Minister K Shanmugam for contempt over comments in parliament criticising the suit.

This was followed by a notice from the police, informing him that he was being investigated for various offences.

In May this year, Ravi learnt that the investigation against him was based on a complaint that he had not received instructions from the 17 inmates including Nazeri when he wrote the letter to the AG.

Ravi today wrote to the Court of Appeal, naming Nazeri as a witness whose testimony was crucial in the investigation against him.

"It should be noted that subject matter of my Oct 5 letter was a statement made by the Law and Home Minister K Shanmugam who is directly responsible for Changi Prison which schedules executions. 

"In these circumstances, I am constrained to ask in the interests of justice that the court exercise its inherent powers to safeguard the administration of justice by ordering a stay of the scheduled execution of Nazeri Lajim pending the completion of the police investigation," Ravi said in his email.

The Court of Appeal today directed the government to respond to Ravi's request by 10am tommorrow. 

Nazeri, 64, is slated to be executed on July 22 despite appeals for clemency by his family which had included a desperate bid for a presidential pardon. 

Nazeri was one of 17 death row inmates who had filed a historic suit against the government, accusing it of discrimination and bias in their prosecution due to their Malay ethnicity.

The suit was dismissed late last year with the court calling it an abuse of process.

Nazeri was sentenced to death in 2017, five years after his arrest during an anti-narcotics operation which saw him nabbed shortly after taking delivery of two bundles containing heroin.

Ravi had attempted to re-open Nazeri's case in 2020, saying the drugs found in Nazeri's possession were for personal consumption.

"It does not make sense to kill someone who is ill and suffers from a serious drug addiction problem," Ravi had said upon hearing of Nazeri's execution date.

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