Singapore riots: Charges against 7 Indians dropped, 2 arraigned

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Singapore, Dec 17: Seven out of the 33 Indians charged with alleged rioting in Singapore's worst outbreak of violence in over 40 years were acquitted on Tuesday, even as two more of their compatriots were arraigned in the incident.

Charges against seven Indians were dropped after they had spent a week in detention for their alleged roles in the December 8 riot in Little India, a precinct of Indian-origin businesses, eateries and pubs where most of the South Asian workers take their Sunday break.

The cases against 21 out of the remaining 26 was also heard in court, with the prosecution asking for them to be remanded for another week for further police investigations. In his application, Deputy Public Prosecutor John Lu cited copious amount of work such as going through the statements of all accused involved, the evidence of more than 300 police officers at the scene, video clips and surveillance camera recordings that needed to be examined.

District Judge Lim Tse Haw agreed to grant the request, but not without asking the prosecution to call on the police to "expedite" matters. When he asked if the defendants had anything to say, some suspects took the opportunity to speak up, through an interpreter. Some of them alleged assault by police officers while under lock-up in a "place where there was no camera", and expressed concerns that their family have yet to be notified, The Straits Times reported.

Many denied involvement in the riot, saying that they were in Little India to remit money, or saying that the charges were "fabrications" as they were not even at the scene at the given time, the report said. The cases against five others who were also charged last week would be heard in the next few days.

Some 400 migrant workers were involved in the rampage.

Meanwhile, two more Indians, Samiyappan Sellathurai, 41, and Sarangan Kumaran, 35, were charged in court and accused of being part of an unlawful assembly and throwing pieces of concrete at other people in the vicinity of Little India's Race Course Road and Kerbau Road.

Both face one charge of rioting and if convicted they could be jailed for up to seven years liable to caning. The trouble on December 8 started after a private bus fatally knocked down an Indian pedestrian, 33-year-old Sakthivel Kuaravelu in Little India.

Some 400 migrant workers were involved in the rampage that left 39 police and civil defence staff injured and 25 vehicles -- including 16 police cars -- damaged. Singapore previously witnessed violence of such scale during race riots in 1969.


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