SINGAPORE — The alleged victims of a Singaporean undergraduate accused of illicitly filming 12 women want a gag order on his identity to be lifted, despite being fully aware of the risk of being identified.
Ten of his victims said that the 22-year-old man should not be allowed to hide behind the gag order, according to the prosecution, which is seeking to lift the gag order on the accused. In addition, the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) is seeking for a second time in two weeks to block his attempt to leave Singapore.
On Tuesday (14 January), Deputy Public Prosecutor Foo Shi Hao also submitted fresh evidence of the man’s “master plan” to abscond and seek asylum outside of Singapore. The accused is an undergraduate from a top British university and had successfully applied to return to his studies in the UK.
The move comes after a highly contested hearing last week in which the prosecution sought to block the man’s attempt to leave, citing him as a flight risk. District Judge Adam Nakhoda allowed the man’s application on 10 January, prompting the prosecution to express its intent to file a criminal motion in the High Court against the decision.
The accused was charged last October with two counts of insulting a woman's modesty by filming two women inside toilets in Orchard Hotel and his condominium. He was handed additional charges involving more victims in January. The man had allegedly filmed the women capturing close-up images of their private parts and faces, over three years.
10 of 12 victims want him to be named: Prosecution
Applying for the gag order on the man to be lifted, the prosecution said it was in the public’s interest that he should be identified and that there were “no compelling reasons” why it should be maintained.
Ten out of the 12 victims identified sought to have his identity published. One of the remaining victims still had reservations, while the other had only known the man through a mutual friend.
“While the pool of potential victims may be narrowed through publishing his name, it remains sufficiently difficult to specially identify victims,” urged the prosecution.
The man’s lawyer Kalidass Murugaiyan objected to this application, arguing that it was not up to the victims to decide whether the accused’s name should be published. The victims might not understand the full extent of what they were saying and the possible consequences, said the lawyer.
‘I honestly might not come back’
In Tuesday’s hearing, the prosecution also produced incriminating text messages from the man’s close female friend, also a victim, exchanged by both of them on 2 October last year. The exchange took place the night after the man’s first application to leave the country for the UK was granted.
In text messages read out to the court by the prosecution, the man tells his friend, “I trust you enough to tell you this, I honestly might not come back”, “I could stay here but that would be certain at least metaphorical death”, and “Once asylum is held it is pretty okay”.
“Honestly, after the first mistake, there is little incentive in this world not to continue to try to lie or run,” he continues.
When asked by the friend whether he thinks he will get asylum, he replies, “well that’s in the masterplan”.
"I suppose this is the real decesion (sic) making rubric...Stay for certain destruction, but there is that element of certainty. Or leave, and everything is uncertain, but potentially adverting this problem,” he added.
Citing the messages, DPP Foo said the man was shown to be afraid of facing justice, had a plan to evade justice and had carefully considered his plan.
“If he is allowed to leave Singapore again, he will have one more chance to execute the master plan. It’s his last chance to avoid what he deems to be certain destruction if he were to return. We say therefore there is a risk that he will execute his master plan and abscond,” said DPP Foo.
Contesting the prosecution’s application, Kalidass said that the man had been referring to committing suicide, rather than a plan to abscond, in his text messages.
“Because he was mentally in deep anguish, he had an outburst when he spoke to (the friend), he said certain things which appear (like) he came up with a master plan but in fact, he was alluding to killing himself that is why, time and again, the reference to death is used,” said the lawyer.
The defence lawyer referred to another set of messages exchanged between the man and his university housemate last year during which the man said “I need to die”. He received an email from Samaritans of Singapore afterward due to his suicidal thoughts, according to the lawyer.
The judge will give his decision with regards to both applications on Thursday.