Defendant fails to return for hearing


  • AseanPlus News
  • Friday, 10 Dec 2004

SRI Lankan Jeremy Mahen Chanmugam, one of 14 people charged after a high-profile cocaine ring was busted two months ago, has failed to return to Singapore from Australia. 

He received permission from the courts to leave the country two weeks ago for medical treatment there and was to return by Sunday.  

He had been ordered to show up at the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) on Monday to surrender his passport, but failed to do so. 

Now, even his Belgian wife, Nadia Cornelis, 46, who is in Singapore, says she does not know where he is. 

The last time she heard from him was on Nov 25, when he called her from Colombo in Sri Lanka, said his lawyer, Subhas Anandan of Harry Elias Partnership. 

Chanmugam claimed he had to go there because he could not obtain a visa from the Australian High Commission in Singapore due to the pending criminal charges against him, Anandan said. 

Chanmugam: Suffers from severe depression since his arrest.

He flew to Colombo hoping he could obtain a visa more easily from his home country. 

Anandan said he had informed the CNB of his client’s travel plans as soon as he became aware of them, but Chanmugam had left the country by then. 

He said Cornelis had been trying to contact Chanmugam, without success. 

District Judge F.G. Remedios had granted Chanmugam’s request to seek a week of specialist treatment at the Hoffman Centre in Victoria, Australia. 

Chanmugam had suffered from severe depression and a loss of appetite since his arrest. 

Two local psychiatrists had written testimonies to support his application for overseas treatment. They stated that a new method of psychiatric counselling offered at the Hoffman Centre might help him recover. The treatment is not available in Singapore. 

Prosecutors objected to Chanmugam’s request, but Remedios allowed it. 

Chanmugam was charged with possession of 1g of cannabis, an offence which carries a maximum punishment of 10 years in jail. 

The judge raised the bail amount from $10,000 to $25,000 and ordered the CNB to return Chanmugam’s passport, which had been impounded after he was charged on Oct 8. 

At the hearing, Chanmugam, 40, assured the court he would return by Sunday. He is due to appear in court again next Wednesday. If he does not turn up by then, a warrant will be issued for his arrest. 

Chanmugam is the creative director of media communications firm, MCN Creative Associates. – The Straits Times/ANN  

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