Successful pro bono cases in Singapore

PRO BONO: (From left) Lawyers R. Thrumurgan and Mr Abraham Vergis worked for their clients for free.

SINGAPORE - Mr R. Thrumurgan was assigned by the Supreme Court's Legal Assistance Scheme for Capital Offences (Lasco) to Ismil Kadar's case on a pro bono basis in November 2005.

Ismil and his brother Muhamad Kadar had been found guilty in the 2005 killing of Madam Tham Weng Kuen, 69, while robbing her at home.

Mr Thrumurgan spent five years working on the case, which led to the acquittal in 2011.

Mr Thrumurgan also represented Thai national Phuthita Somchit, who faced a capital charge for trafficking in more than 60g of heroin, on a pro bono basis.

Somchit, 35, was said to have known that she knew she was dealing in drugs, but did not know it was heroin.

The High Court believed her and her charge was reduced to trafficking in less than 14.99g of heroin.

She pleaded guilty and was sentenced to nine years in jail in 2010, escaping the gallows.

In 2008, an ex-teacher, Mr William Ding, was acquitted after he appealed against his conviction for molesting two children.

His lawyer for the three-year ordeal, Senior Counsel Engelin Teh, waived her fees after the first few months of the trial and acted pro bono for him.

His trial at the Subordinate Court lasted 80 days, spread over a nine-month period. The legal fees came up to about $500,000.

In 2010, Mr Abraham Vergis handled pro bono the acquittal of Yunani Abdul Hamid, who had previously pleaded guilty to drug trafficking and was sentenced to nine years' jail and six strokes of the cane.

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