Parti Liyani seeks approval for inquiry into conduct of two prosecutors

Former maid acquitted of theft after High Court appeal had filed complaint against DPPs in June

Ms Parti Liyani had worked as a maid for Mr Liew Mun Leong (left) and his family, including his son Karl (right). Ms Parti Liyani was convicted of stealing from the family of then Changi Airport Group chairman Liew Mun Leong, but was acquitted this m
Ms Parti Liyani was convicted of stealing from the family of then Changi Airport Group chairman Liew Mun Leong, but was acquitted this month. ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW
Ms Parti Liyani had worked as a maid for Mr Liew Mun Leong (left) and his family, including his son Karl (right).
Ms Parti Liyani had worked as a maid for Mr Liew Mun Leong (left) and his family, including his son Karl (right).

The former maid of prominent businessman Liew Mun Leong is seeking the court's permission for an inquiry into the conduct of the two prosecutors in her case.

Ms Parti Liyani, 46, filed the complaint in June against Deputy Public Prosecutors Tan Wee Hao and Tan Yanying, who had prosecuted her case in the State Courts for theft.

She was acquitted on appeal to the High Court earlier this month.

A High Court pre-trial conference was held yesterday in chambers, said her lawyer Anil Balchandani.

Ms Parti's application - known as an originating summons - was taken out on an ex parte basis, which means only the applicant can be heard, unless the court says otherwise.

The Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) last month filed a summons to seek leave from the court for the two legal service officers to appear and be heard, through State Counsel representing them, in the proceedings.

Ms Parti, an Indonesian who worked for the Liew family from 2007 to 2016, had been convicted by the lower court of stealing over $34,000 worth of items from them.

Justice Chan Seng Onn, in acquitting Ms Parti, had taken issue on several counts with how the case was handled.

He noted that the Liew family could have been motivated to terminate Ms Parti's employment abruptly and file the police report in order to prevent her from reporting her illegal deployment to work at the house and office of Mr Liew's son.

The judge had also found there was a break in the chain of custody of evidence. This created a reasonable doubt as to whether some of the allegedly stolen items discovered by the family were accurately documented by the photographs taken by the police some five weeks later.

Justice Chan also found that two statements were taken from Ms Parti without an interpreter.

During the appeal, a demonstration had shown that a DVD player allegedly stolen by Ms Parti, which a Liew family member had testified was not broken, displayed a "could not initialise disc" error message when a DVD was inserted into it.

 
 
  • About the case

  • Indonesian Parti Liyani was initially charged in 2018 with stealing items worth more than $50,000 from then Changi Airport Group chairman Liew Mun Leong and his family.

    The items were allegedly found in three boxes that Ms Parti had packed after she was sacked on Oct 28, 2016.

    She contested the four charges in a 22-day trial, saying that the items were either bought by her, given to her, discarded and found by her, or had been put into the boxes by someone else.

    In March last year, a district judge found her guilty and handed down a 26-month jail sentence.

    The judge removed two wallets and five items of clothing from the charges, as there was doubt over whether they belonged to Mr Liew's son Karl, and lowered the value of the items to about $34,000.

    Ms Parti appealed to the High Court, which acquitted her on Sept 4.

    On Sept 8, she was cleared of a fifth charge of fraudulent possession of property, making her free of all criminal charges.

 
 

At the lower court trial, it had been shown that the device could play a video digitally stored in the hard disk.

In the light of the High Court judgment, the AGC had said it was reviewing the handling of the case.

Separately, the Ministry of Manpower said it was in consultation with the AGC on whether further action ought to be taken in this case.

The Singapore Police Force also said it was looking into how its investigations were conducted.

At this stage, only leave for an inquiry to be held is being sought under the originating summons filed by Ms Parti.

The inquiry precedes the disciplinary tribunal proceedings on whether there are grounds for convening one.

If Ms Parti succeeds in her application, a disciplinary tribunal may then be appointed to hear the case and submit its findings to the Chief Justice.

The Chief Justice can dismiss the case if the disciplinary tribunal finds no cause of sufficient gravity for disciplinary action, or give orders to have punishments imposed such as censure, paying a penalty of up to $20,000, or any other order deemed appropriate.

Ms Parti had filed the summons under Section 82A of the Legal Profession Act, which deals with misconduct by legal service officers and the penalties if they are found guilty.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 24, 2020, with the headline 'Parti Liyani seeks approval for inquiry into conduct of two prosecutors'. Print Edition | Subscribe