Suspect accused of lying about being unable to go home

Suspect accused of lying about being unable to go home
Arun Kaliamurthy, an Indian national who was in Singapore as a tourist on a social visit pass, took part in the 8 December 2013 riot in Little India.

The prosecution yesterday accused Arun Kaliamurthy - one of 25 men charged for their roles in the Little India riot - of lying.

The 29-year-old yesterday took the stand in his trial for failing to disperse on the night of the Dec 8 riot even after being lawfully commanded to do so.

The Indian national was then living in a rented room in Little India while looking for a job.

Arun told the court he did try to "disperse" when told to do so by police trying to clear the vicinity of Race Course Road.

But as he approached his block in Chander Road, auxiliary police officers prevented him from heading up, leaving him with "no choice" but to hang around at restaurants nearby, he claimed.

He was later arrested at a restaurant along Kampong Kapor Road at about 2am on Dec 9.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Sellakumaran Sellamuthoo, however, accused Arun of lying, pointing out that his flat mate had in fact made it home earlier and had not mentioned any difficulties with auxiliary police officers.

Before his arrest, Arun also took a five-minute video with his mobile phone showing burning vehicles and men cheering, whistling, even urging others to take part in the mayhem.

Arun said he was so focused on taking the video that he could not fully register the commands to disperse. He also claimed that he assumed the instructions were for those actively involved in the riot. He did not think it applied to bystanders, describing himself as one.

But DPP Sellakumaran said that the commands to disperse could be heard clearly in Arun's video, and that the accused had blatantly ignored them.

Arun disagreed, telling the court that he would "certainly" have left the area if he had understood that the announcements were meant for everyone.

District Judge Shaiffudin Saruwan is expected to deliver his verdict on May 28. If convicted, Arun could face up to two years in jail and a fine.

This article was first published on April 30, 2015.
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