Prominent human rights lawyer M Ravi was today suspended for five years after a court in Singapore said he had made "grave and baseless accusations of improper conduct" against the republic's attorney-general as well as officers from the AG's Chambers and the Singapore Law Society.
Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon delivered the decision, the maximum sanction possible for misconduct on the part of lawyers, Channel NewsAsia reported.
Ravi, who had made a name for himself representing prisoners on death row, including Malaysian inmates in Singapore, was suspended over remarks he gave in an interview on the case of a drug runner named Gobi Avedian.
He said the public prosecutor had been "overzealous in his prosecution" of Gobi, blaming this for the death sentence later handed down on his client.
According to the report, he also asked the state, the prosecutor and the Singapore law minister to apologise to Gobi, adding that "the fairness of the prosecution was 'called into question by the court itself'".
When asked to retract his remarks, he published the letter from the AG's Chambers on social media, saying he was entitled to criticise "the unfairness associated to the miscarriage of justice".
Responding to his suspension, he said he was glad that he had managed to reopen a death penalty case and save "at least one life", referring to that of Gobi.
"I have choices," he added. "I chose to dedicate my 20 years to the cause of human rights and access to justice in Singapore at huge personal cost.
"I have no regrets."
Ravi represented, among others, Malaysian Nagaenthran K Dharmalingam who was controversially executed in Singapore for a drug offence last April.
Nagaenthran, who had been diagnosed with a low IQ that made him unfit for capital punishment, was hanged on April 27.
Ravi and fellow lawyer Violet Netto were later slapped with S$20,000 in fines after they were accused of not following the standards expected of a lawyer in filing the 11th hour applications in court to save Nagaenthran’s life.
Ravi had also faced a string of professional disciplinary inquiries which could result in him being fined, suspended or struck off as a lawyer, including three contempt of court proceedings as well as a number of police investigations.
He and another fellow lawyer were also ordered to pay S$10,000 in personal costs to the attorney-general over an ethnic discrimination suit filed by 17 Malay death row convicts.
The judge said then that Ravi had pursued the suit even when told that it had not received consent from the attorney-general.