SINGAPORE - Lawyer M. Ravi will be discharging himself from representing the five men who have been charged for their involvement in the Little India riot.
Mr Ravi told My Paper that his resources are limited for pro-bono cases as he is working alone, and his clients' access to justice will be better served by lawyers from the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme (Clas).
His five clients are among the 25 individuals who were charged for December's riot. They are: Arun Kaliamurthy, 29; Periyaiah Ganesan, 26; Rajendran Mohan, 26; Ravi Arun Vengatesh, 25; and Selvanathan Murugesan, 28.
Mr Ravi said that he had made an application to the court last week, and he will officially discharge himself during the next court hearing next month.
He was initially assigned two cases under Clas after the Dec 8 riot. He had said then: "I was one of the first to respond and volunteer."
The prosecution dropped charges in those cases. Meanwhile, he took on the cases of the five men he now represents.
Why has he changed his mind now? Mr Ravi admitted that while costs was one of the reasons he was discharging himself from the Little India riot cases, it was not the primary one.
"If these clients can pay me as well, I can take an additional lawyer to organise my resources... My primary consideration is not legal fees, but whether they are getting legal aid," he said.
The activist lawyer is also representing blogger Roy Ngerng, who is being sued by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong for defamation. Mr Ngerng has already raised more than $110,000 for his defence, which will go towards legal fees, research and filing fees.
Mr Ravi is also representing former National University of Singapore law professor Tey Tsun Hang. Mr Tey is seeking a court order to review his sacking from the university, following his acquittal on corruption charges.
Mr Ravi said he was still committed to other pro-bono cases, some of which involve clients facing the death penalty, and he has only two trainee lawyers helping him with his work.
In April, he applied for charges against his five clients to be quashed, because he said the Committee of Inquiry hearing into the incident that closed in March had "offended the rule of sub judice", and had denied the men a fair trial.
While Mr Ravi later withdrew his application, the Attorney-General's Chambers has asked the High Court last month to order him to pay $1,000 in costs incurred. The court's decision on this matter will be given today.
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