I am very concerned about reports that a police officer interrogating a murder suspect suggested scenarios to the accused about how he allegedly murdered his wife.
When the accused lawyer asked him why he was then able to provide details of the alleged murder in his police statements, the accused said the investigating officer had asked him “would it have happened this way or would it have happened that way?” when he could not answer her questions.
“I told her between the two, this looks okay, you can take this, and I wanted to be out of the place as soon as possible because of the coldness,” said the accused.
This seems to point to an all-too-typical example of how police investigations are carried out in Singapore. The primary objective of the investigators appears to be to secure a self-incriminating confession with minimal forensic work. To go to the extent of suggesting murder scenarios and asking the accused to make a Hobbesian’s choice under physical duress of a cold room is unconscionable, especially in a murder case in which the confession would likely lead to the death penalty being imposed.
I think this unethical practice by the police should be stopped immediately. The police should work harder to secure convictions through proper forensic and investigative work rather than squeezing out confessions from lowly educated suspects.
Most suspects in Singapore do not have access to consult a lawyer until police investigations are complete. This is inconsistent with the practice in most of the developed world, where the suspect is allowed to contact his lawyer soon after his arrest.
Also, to avoid future abuse of this kind, all police interrogations should be videoed so that the judge can review the video and determine if the confessions were made under duress or were genuine. With the much lower cost of video recording and storage nowadays, cost should not be an excuse.
The Criminal Procedure Code Bill is going to be read and debated in Parliament in the coming weeks. I hope that MPs will seriously look into this matter before casting their vote.