Judge overturns rapist's deportation
A High Court judge overturned the deportation order of a convicted Indian rapist yesterday on compassionate grounds because he believed the man's life would be under threat from the victim's husband.
Quashing the order made by the permanent secretary for security, Mr Justice Anselmo Reyes of the Court of First Instance said: 'Even an offender, however reprehensible his crime, is entitled to respect for his life and dignity as a human being.'
He believed Sukhmander Singh, 34, who was convicted of raping his distant relative in May 1999, faced credible and serious threats to his life if he returned to his mother-in-law's home in Minian village - where his victim's husband also resides.
Mr Singh lost strength in his upper limbs after he was chopped by four men, including the victim's husband, after his arrest in 1998. Mr Singh claimed there was little prospect of returning to his former job because of his disability and that he had no choice but to live with his mother-in-law, who was a neighbour to the victim's husband and his accomplice. The pair fled the territory after the attack.
But the Security Bureau maintained that a potential threat to the applicant's personal safety should not outweigh the protection of law and order in Hong Kong.
The bureau's permanent secretary cited several reasons to support the decision, including the fact that Mr Singh had spent almost 26 years in India, his wife and his extended family could provide him with financial support, the risk of attack existed in both Hong Kong and India, and that Mr Singh's family spent one month away in India despite the threat.
But Mr Justice Reyes said this rationale was 'far from cogent and persuasive', especially as the bureau had accepted the likelihood of reoffending was low.
While dismissing some of the secretary's arguments as 'irrelevant', others also failed to render the threats any less credible, the judge said.
'It is unclear if they [the former convict and his family] visited Minian village during their [previous] visits to India. Besides, it is only in 2004 that [the victim's husband] settled in India.'
The judge said it was unconvincing to say the threat in India and Hong Kong were the same, and unless the authority was prepared to provide Mr Singh with a 24-hour bodyguard, it was unlikely the threat would be in any way neutralised. 'In the exceptional circumstances of this case, given the threat to life and the likely low risk of reoffending, the only reasonable decision would be to allow Mr Singh to remain in Hong Kong.
'Living side by side with his attackers would be like holding a red rag to a bull. There would be greater risk than if he remained in Hong Kong.'
Mr Singh is to expected to be released from Castle Peak Immigration Centre by tomorrow.