SINGAPORE: On Wednesday (August 24), the prosecutor’s office filed an appeal seeking jail time for the convicted former CEO of food and beverage group The Prive Group.

Jean-Luc Kha Vu Han asked a 13-year-old boy obscene questions, punched him in the temple, and slapped him on a shopping mall lift in 2019. He was drunk at the time.

He was previously sentenced to a 12-month mandatory treatment order (MTO) after pleading guilty to charges of voluntarily inflicting injury and intentionally issuing a warning.

The MTO directs offenders suffering from certain treatable mental conditions to seek psychiatric treatment.

Boohan was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. A psychiatrist at the Institute of Mental Health found a link between his mental state and crime.

A district judge previously described his crime as “deplorable” but “not so heinous as to rule out (Vu Han’s) rehabilitation entirely as a dominant sentencing consideration.”

Judge Vincent Hoong later reserved judgment after both parties had argued before the High Court.

Vu Hung’s state of mind

Deputy Attorney General Tai Wei Shyong and Deputy Prosecutor Goh Yong Ngee argued that awarding an MTO based on the facts of the case would “send the wrong message” to protect the public interest.

“This was a senseless and unprovoked assault committed against a young victim that resulted in physical and psychological harm,” they said, and called for a short prison sentence.

Prosecutors were seeking at least eight weeks’ imprisonment and a fine.

The November 22, 2019 incident occurred when Vu Han, his friend, the victim, and the victim’s 12-year-old brother were in an elevator at the Parklane shopping mall.

Vu Han questioned the victim about his genitals and asked the victim if he wanted to see his genitals, but the victim said no.

Boo Hung then said he could arrange sexual intercourse for the victim. The boy was surprised and said no.

Boo Hung suddenly punched the boy in the temple and said, “Do you want to challenge me?” He later slapped his victim on the cheek.

Victim suffered bruises on temples and redness on arms. After the incident, he became afraid to get on the lift, had flashbacks of the incident, and did not sleep well.

Prosecutors said Vu Hung’s first visit to a psychiatrist was his first psychiatric evaluation since he was indicted in June 2020, nearly a year after the crime was committed. rice field.

They also said that Boo Han was initially diagnosed with adjustment disorder by another doctor, but “abandoned” this due to his diagnosis of bipolar disorder.

“On the whole, we argue that a psychiatric diagnosis was sought for the purpose of seeking an MTO in this case,” the prosecutor argued.

They argued that there were no indications that Vu Hung had trouble understanding the nature of his behavior or that his bipolar disorder had compromised his self-control.

Calling the link between Boo Hung’s mental state and his crimes “thin”, prosecutors said a “direct and close link” was needed.

“Otherwise, every instance of mental illness could be used as an excuse for criminal behavior, even if the illness did not actually contribute to the crime,” they argued.

Public Interest or Public Sentiment?

Vu Han’s lawyer, Ms Teh Ee-Von, questioned whether the charges were motivated by public interest or public opinion.

“Deputy prosecutors must not allow public opinion to sway their case. The judiciary does not mean that criminals who commit similar crimes and cause similar harm should be treated in the same way.” You should be blind with it,” she said.

In response, Tai said he would take the unusual step of explaining the reasons for the prosecution’s appeal in an open court.

He said the manner in which the case was debated in the lower courts, the outcome, and the explanation of the reasons for the ruling were “extremely disturbing” for the prosecution.

He also said the case set a precedent for how other cases were debated and could raise questions about how the legal system treats such crimes, so public interest is strong. said.

Ms Teh claimed that her clients have voluntarily sought psychiatric treatment, indicating many rehab possibilities.

Regarding Vu Han’s initial diagnosis of adjustment disorder, she said she sought a second medical opinion because she still felt sick and felt there was something wrong with her treatment.

She also noted that her client quit drinking after learning that alcohol could exacerbate symptoms of bipolar disorder. No, she said.

The attorneys argued that psychiatrists discovered during the incident that Wu Hung likely had a manic episode with possible psychosis, substantiating the prosecution’s explanation that the attack was unprovoked. objected.

Citing a psychiatrist’s findings, Tae said he believed he heard the boy remark about a conversation he had with a friend on the lift before the crime.

She claimed that while the attack may have appeared unprovoked on the outside, it was internally caused by Boohan’s bipolar disorder.

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