Death of SAF soldier Dominique Sarron Lee: 'MINDEF will waive legal costs to family'

The latest move by the MINDEF will see S$22,000 being paid to the family of the soldier, who died in 2012.

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Singapore armed fors case dominique sarroon lee
Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Henry H. Shelton inspects the Guard of Honour by the Singapore Armed Forces. Reuters

The Singapore Ministry of Defence has agreed to waive all legal costs for the family of Private Dominique Sarron Lee, the full-time national serviceman who died while on duty, according to reports.

The case of Lee, who died following an acute allergic reaction in a smoke grenade drill, had raised a controversy after the High Court last week threw out the family's demand that higher officers should be held accountable for the death.

The court had dismissed the case with expenses, ordering Lee's family to pay legal costs for the defendants -- two officers in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF).

The latest move by the MINDEF will see S$22,000 being paid to the family of the soldier, who died in 2012 after falling ill during training, complaining breathing difficulties.

Following the high court verdict last week, the mother of Lee, Madam Felicia Seah, posted an emotional note on Facebook, expressing her indignation

In her impassioned note she told her son she was remorseful that she taught him to trust a government that let him down.

"Dom, in these past 3+ years, I have been worn-down, beaten and defeated by the very government I taught you to trust; worn-down, beaten and defeated by the very system I counseled you to have faith in; worn-down, beaten and defeated by the very people I advised you to respect and honor," the mother wrote.

As the case tugged a chord among the public, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said the family should be paid the legal expenses for the case they lost in the High Court.

Ng justified the court's verdict saying it was "based on sound legal grounds and precedents," but added that the family shouldn't be put to more miseries.

"But we need not add to the pain and anguish of the family of the late PTE Lee. We should waive the costs to the family," the minister said in his Facebook post.

In the latest development, the Today news paper has reported that the ministry of defence (Mindef) has reached an agreement with the defence lawyers that the legal costs for the family will be waived.

No criminal charges had been brought against the officers who oversaw Lee's training -- Captain Najib Hanuk Muhamad Jalal and Major Chia Thye Siongwere.

The family then brought a civil suit against the officers and the SAF, holding them responsible for the death. However, Judicial Commissioner Kannan Remesh ruled that the family was not entitled to hold the officers responsible.

MINDEF has said it paid the family S$20,000 in welfare grants, including a funeral grant of S$8,000. Today also reported that MINDEF has also offered compensation to Mdm Seah, though it did not disclose the details.

The family has said they haven't accepted any compensation from the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF).

In a Facebook post this week, the family said the ministry should "reveal to the public the compensation that you had intended to offer the family, so that all Singaporeans will know how much the life of a promising young man is worth to MINDEF."

This article was first published on March 10, 2016