Filipino who posted inflammatory comments admits to lying

Filipino who posted inflammatory comments admits to  lying
LIED: Ello Ed Mundsel Bello pleaded guilty to one count of sedition and two counts of giving false information to police officers.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

He feigned innocence after posting inflammatory comments about Singaporeans on Facebook.

Ello Ed Mundsel Bello, a 29-year-old Filipino, then got himself into deeper trouble when he lied to the police about what he had done.

The former assistant nurse at Tan Tock Seng Hospital pleaded guilty in court yesterday to one count of sedition and two counts of giving false information to police officers.

Two other charges for similar offences will be taken into consideration during sentencing.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Kumaresan Gohulabalan said Bello had regularly gone on Facebook to comment on Singapore-related reports and articles since the middle of last year.

He added: "These comments by the accused included numerous vile, derogatory and offensive posts which touched on issues of race and nationality."

Bello was in his flat at Block 707, Yishun Avenue 5, on Jan 2 when he posted one of the comments on the Facebook page of sociopolitical website The Real Singapore (TRS).

His remarks attracted many hostile responses and he replied to them by posting another insensitive comment later that day.

Bello's posts quickly became viral.

Alarmed by the hostility they generated, he deleted his comments on the TRS Facebook page.

DPP Kumaresan told District Judge Siva Shanmugam that Bello's posts "had a seditious tendency in that it would promote ill-will and hostility between the different classes of people - Singaporeans and Filipinos - in Singapore."

On Jan 3, Bello went to Chong Pang Neighbourhood Police Post to make a report with Corporal Aavram Karl Roch, claiming he did not post the comments.

He repeated the same lies the next day in a written statement he gave to investigation officer Assistant Superintendent Lim Hao Jun at the Ang Mo Kio Police Division Headquarters.

Bello claimed that an unknown third party could have accessed his Facebook account through a computer that he had used at a Lucky Plaza cybercafe.

In his investigations, ASP Lim took 15 statements from Bello and other witnesses.

He also seized the computer that Bello claimed to have used at the cybercafe and it was sent to the Technology Crime Forensic Branch for analysis.

Bello continued to deny posting the comments and came clean only after he was confronted with contrary evidence.

Pushing for a 20-week jail term, DPP Kumaresan told the court that Bello's comments attracted hundreds of replies online, many of which involved "the slinging of racial slurs".

WEDGE

DPP Kumaresan said: "Acts, like that committed by the accused, seek to rip apart this delicate thread and drive a wedge between classes of people in Singapore.

"This peace and harmony Singapore enjoys today is the bedrock upon which her success in the past 50 years is built on and cannot be taken for granted."

Bello's lawyer, Mr Mark Goh, urged Judge Siva to sentence his client to no more than six weeks' jail, stressing that the comments were not about race or religion.

He said: "Although there were many angry responses to the Facebook comments, they should not be seen as an indication of the degree of seditious tendency that these comments would have on the general population of Singapore."

Bello will be back in court on Sept 16.

For each count of giving false information to a police officer, he can be jailed up to a year and fined up to $5,000.

For sedition, he can be jailed up to three years and fined up to $5,000.

ashaffiq@sph.com.sg

 


This article was first published on Aug 27, 2015.
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