Osman and Another v Public Prosecutor

Judgment Date05 October 1966
Date05 October 1966
Docket NumberCriminal Appeal No Y5 of 1965
CourtFederal Court (Singapore)
Osman and another
Public Prosecutor

[1966] SGFC 10

Wee Chong Jin CJ


Tan Ah Tah FJ


J W D Ambrose J

Criminal Appeal No Y5 of 1965

Federal Court

Criminal Procedure and Sentencing–Statements–Admissibility–Statements given within short period on day of arrest–No food given during that period–Whether statements voluntarily made–Evidence–Admissibility of evidence–Statements given within short period on day of arrest–No food given during that period–Whether statements voluntarily made–Evidence–Proof of evidence–Confessions–Retracted confessions–Whether retracted confessions could be made basis of conviction if not corroborated–International Law–War and armed conflict–Geneva Conventions–Indonesians convicted of murder in Singapore–Whether member of armed forces of party to conflict who was in civilian clothing and set off explosives in non-military building in territory of other party to conflict had right to be treated as prisoner of war–Article 4 Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War 1949

The appellants, who were Indonesians, were convicted of murder. They had placed explosives on the landing of the mezzanine floor of a non-military building which exploded and resulted in the death of three people. The appellants argued that:

  1. (a) they were members of the armed forces of Indonesia and were prisoners of war within the meaning of Art 4 of the Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War 1949 (“the Convention”) and were therefore entitled to the privileges of prisoners of war under the Convention;

  2. (b) the trial judge was wrong in law to admit in evidence statements made by them as the statements were made within a short period on the very day of their arrest, and the appellants were given no food during that period; and

  3. (c) the statements amounted to confessions and, since they were retracted at trial, they could not be made the basis of a conviction unless they were corroborated.

Held, dismissing the appeals:

(1) There was ample evidence to support the trial judge's finding that the appellants were not members of the regular armed forces of the Republic of Indonesia. Even if they were, they had forfeited their rights on capture to be treated as prisoners of war within the meaning of Art 4 of the Convention, as they had, while in civilian clothing, set off explosives in the territory of another party to a conflict in a non-military building where civilians were doing work unconnected with any war effort: at [20] and [21].

(2) The statements made by the appellants were properly ruled by the judge as being admissible in evidence since they were voluntary statements not made under inducement, threat, promise or force: at [23] and [24].

(3) An accused person could be convicted on his own confession even when it was retracted, if the court was satisfied of its truth. There need not be corroborative evidence to support the retracted confession. The trial judge was entitled and justified in concluding that the confessions were true and to convict the appellants: at [26] and [27].

Krofan Stanislaus v PP [1965-1967] SLR (R) 411 (folld)

Yap Sow Keong v PP [1947] MULR 49 (folld)

A J Braga (AJ Braga & Co) for the appellants

Francis Seow (Attorney-General's Chambers) for the respondent.

Wee Chong Jin CJ

(delivering the judgment of the court):

1 The appellants were tried before F A Chua J in the High Court of Singapore on three charges under s 302 of the Penal Code for the murder of Susie Choo Kay Hoi, Juliet Goh Hwee Kuang and Yasin bin Kesit on 10 March 1965 at about 3.07pm at MacDonald House, Orchard Road, Singapore.

2 The trial was held under the Emergency (Criminal Trials) Regulations 1964 and at the conclusion of the trial F A Chua J found both appellants guilty and convicted and sentenced them accordingly.

3 The facts are relatively simple. On 10 March 1965 at about 3.00pm some one or more persons placed on the landing of the mezzanine floor of MacDonald House, a non-military building housing a bank and the offices of several commercial firms, about 20 to 25lbs of explosives of the nitro-glycerine group, which shortly thereafter exploded resulting in the death of the three persons mentioned in the charges. Thirty other persons who were in the building and outside it at the time of the explosion were also injured, and the lifts and the mezzanine floor of the building were badly damaged.

4 Two of the deceased, Susie Choo and Juliet Goh, were secretaries working in an office on the mezzanine floor, and the third deceased, Yasin, was a driver who was found seriously injured on the road outside MacDonald House. He died two days later from intracranial and blast injuries.

5 Three days later, on the morning of 13 March at about 8.00am the appellants, who are Indonesians, were found hanging on to a floating plank in the sea off Pulau Sebarok in Malaysian waters and rescued by two men in a bumboat. At the time of their rescue, the first appellant was bare-bodied and wearing a pair of civilian trousers, while...

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6 cases
  • Public Prosecutor v Rozman bin Jusoh and Another
    • Singapore
    • Court of Appeal (Singapore)
    • 14 August 1995
    ... ... The authorities in support are in abundance: Yap Sow Keong & Anor v PP ; Osman & Anor v PP ; Ismail bin UK Abdul Rahman v PP and Mohamed Bachu Miah & Anor v PP ... We see no reason why this principle should not apply equally to the present situation. The statements of Rozman (which were confessions) were made by him voluntarily and were admitted in evidence but was ... ...
  • Lim Thian Lai v Public Prosecutor
    • Singapore
    • Court of Appeal (Singapore)
    • 4 November 2005
    ... ... : (a) the five statements (P104–P108) made by the appellant to the police officers, (b) the evidence of PW21 and (c) the evidence of another witness, Tham Boon Hua (“Tham”). The appellant challenged the admissibility of the statements on the ground that they were not voluntarily made ... But before convicting a person on this basis, the court must be satisfied that his confession is voluntary, true and reliable: see Osman v PP [1965–1968] SLR 128 and Ismail bin UK Abdul Rahman v PP [1972–1974] SLR 232. Counsel for the appellant, however, submitted that where ... ...
  • Public Prosecutor v Mustari bin Suri
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 28 February 1989
    ... ... order of acquittal of the respondent, Mustari bin Suri, by the District Court.The respondent was jointly tried with two co-accused Rafrin bin Osman and Hasan bin Akbar on four counts under s 457 read with s 34 of the Penal Code(Cap 224) of housebreaking and theft by night between 14 November 1984 ... I admit to the offence and ask for leniency as I have cooperated with the police ... The trial judge, after another voir dire, also admitted the statement made by the co-accused Hasan bin Akbar under s 120 of the Criminal Procedure Code(exh P66). In his statement ... ...
  • Public Prosecutor v Lim Tee Hian
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 2 September 1991
    ... ... The general manager learnt of her death at about 5.30pm. The prosecution also led the evidence of another colleague of the deceased, Jenny Khoo Geok Choo (`PW10`), who worked in the club since 1979. She did not give evidence at the preliminary inquiry and ... accused against the other relevant evidence: see PP v Lai Pong Yuen & Ors ,4 Johnson Tan Han Seng v PP .5 The DPP also relied on Osman & Anor v PP 6 and PP v Mustari bin Sur i 7 for the proposition that an accused could be convicted on his own confession even if it is ... ...
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