S'pore condemns Aus cafe siege, reviews country's bail clauses

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Singapore, Dec 17: In response to the siege at an Australian cafe that resulted in the deaths of two hostages in Sydney, Singapore's Law Ministry has been asked to review the framework for granting bail while the leaders here have expressed grief over the incident. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the incident was a lesson for Singapore to keep up its guard.

"Despite all our precautions, we can never completely rule out such an incident here," the Prime Minister wrote a post on his Facebook. "If it ever happens, we need the cohesion and resilience to deal with it calmly and as one united people, and not let it divide or destroy our society," he said.

Sydney

Lee recalled a briefing he had held last month with local community and religious leaders on extremist terrorism, where discussion was on how terrorism remains a live threat and the danger of self-radicalism. Reacting to the siege, Law and Foreign Affairs Minister K Shanmugam said he has asked the ministry to review the framework of granting bail.

The gunman at the centre of the Sydney siege, Man Haron Monis, was allegedly out on bail for charges of being an accessory to the murder of his ex-wife, as well as charges related to more than 50 allegations of sexual assault, according to Australian media reports. Shanmugam expressed shock and sadness at the death of "the heroic duo who protected those in the cafe during the Sydney hostage situation", he said in a Facebook post.

"The world is now afflicted with this madness - deranged men running amok, and using religion as an excuse to kill innocent people," he said. The fact that the hostage-taker had a history, and was out on bail while being accused of a serious crime "calls for a careful re-look", wrote the minister. "I have asked MinLaw (Ministry of Law) to review our framework for granting bail."

Presently, murder and most sexual assaults are non-bailable offences. A person charged with abetting such offences would also not be eligible for bail. Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry said "Singapore strongly condemns the hostage incident that took place in Sydney. We are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of innocent lives and injuries. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families. Singapore stands in solidarity with the people and government of Australia. "This incident highlights the danger posed to all societies by terrorism and extremist ideology, and underscores the need for continued vigilance in dealing with them," the statement said.

PTI

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