Together with his brother-in-law, Indian national Selvanathan Murugesan was heading to the Little India MRT station after having drinks when the pair were stopped by police.
They were told to go to Farrer Park Station instead, as their original route towards Race Course Road had been cordoned off because the Little India riot had broken out there.
But they refused, shouted at police and then resisted arrest.
Yesterday, Selvanathan, 28, was sentenced to five months in jail after pleading guilty to obstructing a police officer from carrying out his job around 10.40pm on Dec 8 last year.
Calling for a jail term of not more than five months, Deputy Public Prosecutor Santhra Aiyyasamy argued that although the construction worker had not been involved in the thick of the rioting, his defiance had sought to undermine police operations that night.
His offence should be seen against the backdrop of Singapore's worst public order disturbance in more than 40 years, Ms Santhra said.
The court heard that Selvanathan and his brother-in-law also shouted at two officers, saying that they should not dictate to them where to go and what to do.
As the two officers stationed along Chander Road tried to arrest them, they persisted with trying to get past.
Two other officers had to help subdue them.
Selvanathan's lawyer, Mr Ramesh Tiwary, urged the court not to hand down a sentence of more than five months, saying his client has been working in Singapore "on and off" since 2006, and has to support his parents back home.
Selvanathan could have been jailed for up to eight years and fined for obstructing a public servant in the discharge of his duty. He was expected to be released and repatriated yesterday as he had been in remand since Dec 10 last year.
The case against his brother-in-law, Ravi Arun Vengatesh, 25, will be heard later this month.
Selvanathan is the 17th person out of 25 charged to be dealt with over the Little India riot, during which 23 emergency vehicles were damaged and five of them were set on fire.
More than 50 officers responding to the riot suffered injuries.
The gravest punishment so far was handed to Indian worker Arumugam Karthik, 25, who received 33 months in jail and three strokes of the cane for rioting and setting a police car on fire.
This article was published on Sept 5 in The Straits Times.
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