Indian national gets 30 months' jail, 3 strokes of the cane

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Singapore riots
Singapore, May 8:  An Indian national has been sentenced to 30 months' jail and three strokes of the cane for rioting and setting a bus on fire in Little India last year, the worst street violence in four decades in Singapore.

Ramalingam Sakthivel is the first man to have pleaded guilty and sentenced for rioting, which was sparked by the death of an Indian in a bus accident in the Little India precinct - a precinct of Indian businesses, pubs and eateries. The 33-year-old had rallied other rioters around him in Race Course Road to flip over a police vehicle, according to a report by the Channel News Asia today.

Sakthivel, who worked in the construction sector here, had also repeatedly hit a Singapore Civil Defence Force ambulance with a pole. He also tried to set a bus on fire by throwing burning items into its fuel gas inlet. The bus, meant to ferry foreign workers back to their dormitories from Little India that night, had knocked down another construction worker Sakthivel Kumaravelu.

Deputy Presiding Judge Jennifer Marie said Sakthivel was no meek follower and that he had rallied others to join in the mayhem that night. She said Sakthivel, who shouted at police officers and threw a glass bottle in their direction, had displayed an open hostility against the law enforcers.

"The audacious acts of violence by the accused reflected his contempt for authority, and law and order." As such, the sentence should not just punish criminal behaviour but also protect public interest, the judge added. Sakthivel's sentence would be backdated to December 8, the day he was remanded. Her lawyer Justin Tan described the sentence as "fair".

Tan said his client would not appeal against his sentence. Some 400 migrant workers from South Asia rioted, following the fatal accident, injuring 49 police and Home Team officers and damaging 23 emergency vehicles on December 8 last year.


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