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Prison officers did not get in the way of death row inmates who sued Attorney-General, says S'pore Prison Service

SINGAPORE — The Singapore Prison Service on Thursday (Aug 4) refuted the claims made by the sister of a death row inmate, who said that prison officers had intentionally obstructed the submission of a legal application in relation to a civil lawsuit against the Attorney-General.

Abdul Rahim Shapiee, whose execution is scheduled for Aug 5, 2022, was among 24 inmates who claimed that their access to lawyers for appeals and reviews of their cases had been obstructed.
Abdul Rahim Shapiee, whose execution is scheduled for Aug 5, 2022, was among 24 inmates who claimed that their access to lawyers for appeals and reviews of their cases had been obstructed.
  • The sister of death row inmate Abdul Rahim Shapiee accused prison officers of obstructing his attempt to submit a legal application on July 25
  • The Singapore Prison Service refuted the claim
  • It said no prisoners awaiting capital punishment approached any prison officer on July 25 for such a request
  • It added that two inmates asked a prison officer for advice three days later
  • The officer told them to get help from the courts on what documents they needed and the fees involved

SINGAPORE — The Singapore Prison Service on Thursday (Aug 4) refuted the claims made by the sister of a death row inmate, who said that prison officers had intentionally obstructed the submission of a legal application in relation to a civil lawsuit against the Attorney-General.

Abdul Rahim Shapiee, whose execution is scheduled for Friday, was among 24 inmates who claimed that their access to lawyers for appeals and reviews of their cases had been obstructed.

His sister alleged that prison officers obstructed them in order to facilitate the carrying out of his death sentence.

A High Court judge struck out their lawsuit on Wednesday, saying that it was “plainly unsustainable and unmeritorious”.

The 24 inmates have filed an appeal against the High Court’s decision and a hearing is scheduled to take place in the Court of Appeal on Thursday afternoon.

The suit was filed on Monday by former policeman Iskandar Rahmat — who is on death row for committing a double murder in Kovan in 2013 — on behalf of the 23 other inmates.

Abdul Rahim, 45, is reportedly the only one among the inmates whose execution is imminent. He was given the death penalty in 2018 for trafficking at least 39.87g of pure heroin (diamorphine).

In a media statement released on Thursday morning, the Singapore Prison Service said that it was aware of Abdul Rahim’s sister’s claims and added that the claims were untrue.

No prisoners awaiting capital punishment approached any prison officer on July 25 to request the filing of any legal application, it added.

It noted that three days later, two death row inmates, whom it did not name, asked a prison officer for advice on the process of filing an originating claim with the courts. This is how a lawsuit can be initiated.

The prison officer then told the inmates that they should seek clarification from the courts on what documents they needed, as well as the fees involved.

“This is the standard procedure for prisoners who are not assisted by legal counsel for the filing of non-routine applications," it added.

At his request, one of the death row inmates was also issued with a letterform to write to the court with his queries. The letterform was not used.

“Contrary to the claims made, Singapore Prison Service officers did not ask any (prisoner awaiting capital punishment) for any application form or e-litigation form, or deny any request to file a court application on such basis,” it said.

It added that the two death row inmates involved did not tell the prison service that their intended originating summons involved Abdul Rahim or that it required urgent attention.

One of them told the prison officer that the documents were not finalised because he was awaiting an upcoming visit on Monday to receive a printout of another document.

On Monday, Iskandar submitted the final set of documents to the Singapore Prison Service, which helped to file the documents with the courts.

It said that it also arranged with Iskandar’s family to pay an application fee at the Supreme Court, with a prison officer present to help with the filing of the application that afternoon.

Related topics

death row Singapore Prison Service court lawsuit Attorney-General inmates

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