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Kovan double murder: Ex-police officer on death row loses apex court appeal for lawyers to face disciplinary tribunal

SINGAPORE — Former police officer Iskandar Rahmat, who has been on death row since 2017 for a shocking double murder in the Kovan area four years before that, lost an appeal in the apex court on Monday (July 5) concerning his former team of trial lawyers.

Iskandar Rahmat (second from right), a 14-year veteran of the police force, had killed a car workshop owner and the man’s son on July 10, 2013.

Iskandar Rahmat (second from right), a 14-year veteran of the police force, had killed a car workshop owner and the man’s son on July 10, 2013.

  • Iskandar Rahmat had already lost an appeal against his conviction and death sentence
  • He then lodged a disciplinary complaint against his former defence team, but the complaint was dismissed by the Law Society
  • The High Court in 2019 rejected his appeal against the LawSoc’s decision
  • The apex court dismissed it again on Monday
  • He will next challenge the constitutionality of murder as framed under Section 300(a) of the Penal Code

 

SINGAPORE — Former police officer Iskandar Rahmat, who has been on death row since 2017 for a shocking double murder in the Kovan area four years before that, lost an appeal in the apex court on Monday (July 5) concerning his former team of trial lawyers.

However, this is not the end of the road just yet for Iskandar, now aged 42.

His new lawyer M Ravi told TODAY that he will next be challenging the constitutionality of murder as framed under Section 300(a) of the Penal Code.

The Court of Appeal had already dismissed his appeal against the conviction and sentence. President Halimah Yacob also subsequently rejected his clemency plea, effectively condemning him to hang for his crime.

Monday’s hearing came after Iskandar, an ex-investigation officer, failed in a 2019 bid to ask the High Court to review a decision by the Law Society of Singapore (LawSoc).

Then self-represented, he had lodged a complaint against the six defence lawyers who represented him during his murder trial, saying that their conduct warranted a formal investigation by a disciplinary tribunal.

His defence counsel team then comprised Mr Shashi Nathan, Ms Tania Chin, Mr Jeremy Pereira, Associate Professor Ferlin Jayatissa, Ms Sudha Nair and Mr Rajan Supramaniam.

However, the LawSoc dismissed his complaint after an inquiry committee recommended that no formal investigation into the case was necessary.

Iskandar then filed a review of the decision under the Legal Profession Act, which High Court judge Valerie Thean threw out in October 2019.

On Monday, Iskandar’s lawyer, Mr M Ravi, rehashed the nine charges that Iskandar had made against his former defence team. They fell into three broad categories: Exhibits, witnesses and instructions.

For example, Iskandar alleged that they had failed to provide a full set of crime scene photos to him, and that his family members were not called to testify on his non-violent nature during the trial.

Mr Ravi also addressed arguments from the LawSoc’s lawyers, Mr P Padman and Mr Lim Yun Heng, that the latest appeal was a “delay mechanism” and “improper collateral attack against conviction”.

Mr Ravi said that his client had already raised his grievances as early as March 2016, when his appeal against conviction was pending in the apex court, and it was “certainly not an afterthought”.

After about an hour of hearing both Mr Ravi’s and LawSoc’s arguments, a three-judge panel — comprising Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, Justice Judith Prakash and Justice Quentin Loh — dismissed the appeal.

They did not provide reasons and said they will release their full written decision grounds in due course.

As for Iskandar’s constitutional challenge, Mr Ravi said that it would be heard by the Court of Appeal in August.

Iskander was convicted under Section 300(a) of the Penal Code of committing murder with the intention of causing death. The offence carries the mandatory death penalty.

“(This) does not provide judges with any discretion in terms of sentencing, and this violates equality before the law when the same is available for culpable homicide under Section 299 of the Penal Code,” Mr Ravi told TODAY.

WHAT ISKANDAR DID

Iskandar, a 14-year veteran of the police force, had killed a car workshop owner and the man’s son on July 10, 2013.

Passers-by watched in horror as Iskandar, while fleeing in a Toyota Camry along Upper Serangoon Road, dragged Tan Chee Heong, then 42, under the car.

The bloody trail led back to a house on Hillside Drive — about 1km away — where the body of his father, Tan Boon Sin, 67, lay with multiple stab wounds. After a 54-hour manhunt, Iskandar was arrested in Johor Baru, Malaysia.

He had earlier hatched a plan to rob the older Tan of money kept in a safe deposit box at Certis Cisco, in order to avert a possible sacking over his “financial embarrassment”.

He carried out his scheme a day before a deadline to make a S$50,000 lump-sum payment to clear his S$65,000 bank debt.

In convicting Iskandar in 2015, the High Court rejected his defence that he had intended to rob and run but was forced to defend himself against a knife-wielding Tan Boon Sin and that the older man died from his injuries during the scuffle.

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crime court murder kovan police lawyer

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