Riot: Four accused face more charges

Riot: Four accused face more charges

SINGAPORE - Four men accused of rioting in Little India on Dec 8 were handed additional charges in court last Friday.

Arumugam Karthik, 24, faced two new charges: setting fire to a police car with one other person; and throwing pieces of concrete and overturning a police car with others.

The prosecution tendered one additional charge each against the other three men.

Chinnappa Prabakaran, 23, was accused of instigating a group to set fire to an ambulance; Bose Prabakar, 29, was accused of assaulting an auxiliary police officer by kicking him; and Moorthy Kabildev, 24, was accused of punching bus coordinator Wong Geck Woon inside the bus which ran over Mr Sakthivel Kumaravelu, 33, an Indian national who was a construction worker.

The accident sparked the riot, the first in more than 40 years.

Deputy Public Prosecutor John Lu singled out these four men and asked the Subordinate Courts to revoke their bail, given the additional charges they now faced.

When that was turned down, the DPP then asked for bail to be increased to between $30,000 and $60,000.

At a motion hearing later in the High Court, bail was increased to $60,000 for Karthik and $40,000 each for the other three men.

While Judicial Commissioner Tan Siong Thye did not grant the prosecution's application for bail to be revoked, he said the set bail of $20,000 was inadequate. He ordered the four men not to interfere with witnesses in the case, and to stay out of trouble.

Meanwhile, two of the 25 accused men have made bail. The first, Arun Kaliamurthy, was bailed out on Tuesday by his father's Singaporean friend.

In a statement to reporters outside the Subordinate Courts yesterday, the 28-year-old project manager repeated allegations that he was assaulted by the police. Arun, who was on a social visit pass when he was implicated in the riot, claimed he was "not nearby" when the riot occurred, but was picked up by police some time after midnight in a restaurant near Mustafa Centre.

He also told The Straits Times that he graduated from Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia, with a master's degree in technology in 2009 and came to Singapore to work as an IT engineer in the same year.

At a dorm visit last week, Second Minister for Home Affairs and Trade and Industry S. Iswaran said police take such allegations seriously, and would investigate them thoroughly.

"At the same time, if anyone makes frivolous comments and allegations, they will also be appropriately dealt with," he said.

The other accused who made bail was 22-year-old Chinnathambi Malesan, after District Judge Kessler Soh made an exception for his Malaysian employer to bail him out, instead of a Singaporean.

The judge agreed with defence counsel Suresh Damodara that Mr Lew Kok Leong, 51, had roots in Singapore, given his permanent residency since 1978, ownership of an HDB flat and his "absolute control" over Malesan's movement as his employer.

Mr Lew told The Straits Times that Malesan, who is from Tamil Nadu, has worked for him as a tiler for the past eight months.

"I lack a plaster tiler... it's very hard to get a good worker like him," said Mr Lew, who runs Bohonly General Contractors with a partner.

It was the first time he was posting bail for a worker, and he did so with the support of his family and business partner. "He came to Singapore just a few months ago, so I'm trying to help him as much as possible."

Additional reporting by Rachel Au-Yong

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