The High Court's power of revision - Yunani v PP (2008)

Yunani bin Abdul Hamid v Public Prosecutor [2008] SGHC 58,

In 1992, Yunani was stopped at a PSA Container Gate for a routine check. His motorcycle pillion passenger, Aziz was carrying a knapsack. The knapsack contained 913.1g of cannabis.

Yunani panicked and sped off on his motorcycle with Aziz. Later that day,Yunani surrendered himself to the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) and told them he had not known about the cannabis. Aziz, however, remained at large for the next 15 years.

Eventually, the Prosecution felt that it was unjust to keep Yunani in remand, given the disappearance of Aziz and the evidential gaps in the case against the applicant. But since he was the rider of the motorcycle and had fled, Yunani was given a discharge not amounting to an acquittal
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In 2007 Aziz was arrested, and later that day, the police re-arrested Yunani. Aziz claimed that the knapsack and cannabis belonged to Yunani, but Yunani continued to maintain his innocence.

Aziz decided to plead guilty to get a lower sentence. Yunani initially wanted to claim trial but because he was under pressure, and did not have good legal advice, he also pleaded guilty. He was then sentenced to nine years’ imprisonment and six strokes of the cane.

Yunani wanted to appeal, but because he had pleaded guilty, he could not appeal against conviction, he could only appeal against sentence. His new lawyer applied to the High Court for revision of the case.

The High Court judge Justice VK Rajah held

(1) The High Court could use its power of revision if there was serious injustice

(2) Serious injustice included pressures faced by the offender to plead guilty … such that the offender did not have the freedom to choose between pleading guilty and pleading not guilty

He referred the case back to the State Court for retrial.

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