Case adjourned for IMH to assess prof's mental health

Photo above: Tey Tsun Hang leaving court with his lawyers, Ms Yang Sara (left) and Ms Christine Low.

SINGAPORE - Questions about law professor Tey Tsun Hang's health and his state of mind took centre stage in court on Monday as the judge decided to adjourn his trial for two weeks.

Tey, who is facing six charges of corruptly obtaining sex and gifts from a former student in 2010, will undergo forensic psychiatric tests at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) to see if he is fit to stand trial.

Last Wednesday, the suspended National University of Singapore don went into a daze while on the stand shortly after the prosecution produced evidence that apparently contradicted his testimony.

He was later seen crying, breathing heavily and retching into a plastic bag before being rushed to the National University Hospital.

Defence counsel Peter Low said yesterday that Tey was "unable to continue with the trial to make out his defence" as the law professor was "not in possession of his faculty".

Mr Low added: "I'm finding it difficult to take instructions from him (Tey) because he's not normal."

Doctors diagnosed the incident as an "acute hyperventilation episode" and that Tey had "dissociative amnesia".

The case had already been adjourned twice last week after Tey applied for the IMH evaluation.

Chief District Judge Tan Siong Thye said Tey's condition "is not a case of unsoundness of mind", for which the court cannot proceed. "Just before we adjourned, there's no indication whatsoever to show that he's not capable of answering questions," he added.

The judge also made it clear he wanted the case to continue as soon as possible. He asked the law professor: "So how many more days do you need to rest before we can proceed?"

Tey, who turned 42 yesterday, replied: "I wish to tell Your Honour that I've no intent to delay the proceedings, not even a single day more. My family is awaiting me and I wish the proceedings to be over as soon as possible."

Dr Bharat Saluja, an IMH forensic psychiatrist, had written to the court on Friday to indicate that assessing Tey's mental health would take four weeks.

But an Attorney-General's Chambers request to expedite the matter yesterday cut this to two weeks. This means the trial will resume on May 6 - or earlier, if Tey's psychiatric report is ready before then.

waltsim@sph.com.sg


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