Singapore riot: Defence team of Indian completes arguments

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Singapore riots
Singapore, May 21: The defence team of an Indian national, accused of obstructing police at the scene of Little India riot, has completed arguments in case related to Singapore's worst street violence in four decades.

A verdict in the case of Mahalingam Thavamani (27) - who is the first man to claim trial over his alleged role in the riot - is expected on June 23. He is on trial under amended charge of obstructing a police officer by defying orders to leave a restricted area – the scene of the riot, The Straits Times reported today.

The construction worker was originally accused of rioting on the night of December 8 last year in Singapore's Little India, a precinct of Indian-origin business establishments, eateries and pubs. If convicted, Thavamani faces a jail term of up to eight years and a penalty.

Thavamani had, however, said he was only waiting for his younger brother who has a history of fainting spells and who had gone to a toilet within the riot scene. Police had then ordered Thavamani to leave the area. Three police officers called as prosecution witnesses had failed to recognize Thavamani, who, along with nine other Indian nationals, was arrested and taken to police station on the night of December 8.

Twenty-five men have been charged for their roles in the Little India riot, with two having been sentenced to 30 and 33 months in prison. Six other Indians working in Singapore, initially charged with rioting, had earlier this year pleaded guilty to amended charges of failing to disperse. Out of the six who were sentenced to between 15 and 18 weeks in jail, five have returned to India. The Little India riot left 49 police and home team officers injured, and 23 emergency vehicles damaged.


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