Singapore | An Indian national in Singapore was today sentenced to receive three strokes of cane in addition to an earlier 25-month jail term for his involvement in Little India riots last December, the country’s worst street violence in 40 years. 42-year-old Samiyappan Sellathurai, who was sentenced to 25 months imprisonment on August 14 for his involvement in the riots, would be caned for he had also instigated the crowd, media reports said.
Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Sellakumaran Sellamuthoo told the High Court before Justice Chan Seng Onn that Samiyappan’s imprisonment term was manifestly inadequate, given he had not only participated in the riots but also instigated the crowd. The respondent instigated others to help him remove a concrete slab that was used to pave the ground. He had tried to do so on his own, but failed as the slab was heavy and stuck to the ground. After the crowd joined in response to the respondent’s instigation the concrete slab was dislodged.
During the time frame between 10.09 PM and 10.19 PM, the respondent threw a total of eight pieces of concrete in the direction of public vehicles and public servants. The crowd, which prior to this was non-violent, followed the respondent’s lead and started to dislodge other concrete slabs, break them and used them as projectiles, Today newspaper quoted the DPP as having told the court.
The respondent then continued his streak of creating chaos and unrest by inciting others to help carry a small metal rack and ram it against a side wall of the Little India MRT (Mass Rapid Transit/Subway) station, he said in the court while showing a CCTV footage taken at the time of the riot. Before meting out the sentence on the grounds that Samiyappan had instigated the crowds and also vandalised public property, Justice Chan said that Samiyappan was considered lucky that the prosecution had not appealed for a longer prison term.
Viewing the video, it is clear that the respondent was the ringleader and instigated the crowd. In this case of rioting, vandalism was involved. Not only vandalism but destruction of government property, Justice Chan said. A total of 25 individuals have been charged in court since for their respective roles and involvement in the riot in Little India, a precinct of Indian origin shops, eateries, pubs, motels and hotels. The rioters damaged 23 emergency vehicles, five of which were completely gutted, andinjured 54 responding officers.
The rioting, amidst some 400 migrant workers from South Asia, was sparked by a fatal accident involving an Indian national working here and the bus, which was meant transport some of the workers from the Little India area back to their dormitories.
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