SINGAPORE — Human rights lawyer M Ravi was charged in court for criminal defamation on Wednesday (16 December) over a Facebook post he made on 6 November.
Ravi Madasamy, 51, appeared in the State Courts on Wednesday to receive one charge of criminal defamation. A prominent civil rights lawyer, Ravi is known for defending death row cases.
He is also the lawyer representing Daniel De Costa Augustin, who is on trial for the alleged criminal defamation of members of Singapore’s Cabinet in an article published on socio-political site The Online Citizen.
Ravi, who appeared in court without a lawyer, was charged with defaming the Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law K Shanmugam by publishing “a Facebook post on the Facebook profile page ‘Ravi MRavi’” on 6 November. It is charged that the post contained “an imputation concerning the minister, namely that the minister had claimed that he wields influence over and controls Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon”, and that Ravi had intended the Post to “harm the reputation of the minister”.
Ravi’s post had claimed that fellow lawyer Eugene Thuraisingam had been in a 2017 meeting with Shanmugam, politician Murali Pillai and Deputy Attorney General Hri Kumar Nair when the minister allegedly stated that he wielded influence over Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon and supposedly “calls the shot and controlls (sic)” the CJ.
On the same day however, Thuraisingam refuted the claims in a letter to Shanmugam, saying that Ravi’s statements was “false and completely untrue”.
“Mr Shanmugam has never said anything like that to me. I have also never told Mr Ravi any such thing,” Thuraisingam added. He said in his letter to the Law Minister that Ravi had made the same allegations three years ago in a Facebook post published on 12 June 2017. While Ravi claimed that he had records of this incident, he never produced them, according to Thuraisingam.
A day after Ravi’s Facebook post, the Singapore Police Force said it had initiated investigations against him for the offence of criminal defamation. It added that no police action was taken in the 2017 incident involving Ravi’s allegations.
Ravi has since indicated on his Facebook page that he has sued the Police Commissioner for defamation for “telling the media about my investigation before even (he) knew about it”. He has also sued media outlets Mediacorp and The Straits Times Press over stories that they carried about the investigations against him.
Ravi was previously hauled to court for causing hurt to two lawyers and for trespassing onto the premises of law firm Eugene Thuraisingam LLP. He was given a Mandatory Treatment Order for 18 months on 5 January 2018 after the court considered that he suffered from bipolar disorder.
For criminal defamation, he may be jailed up to two years, or fined, or both.
The judge has fixed a pre-trial conference on 6 January 2021.
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