Cleaner cleared of underage sex with prostitute

SINGAPORE - A cleaner broke down in tears on Wednesday as he was cleared of having sex with an underage prostitute for $10.

Mr Md Salauddin Md Dudu Mia, 29, had denied having the sleazy encounter on a staircase. Six of his colleagues were jailed for up to 17 months in related cases - for having sex with the same girl, who is now 15. Mr Md Salauddin, who did not have a lawyer, thanked District Judge Low Wee Ping repeatedly for believing in him.

Judge Low said the Bangladeshi national had admitted to the police that he had met the girl and her friend in January last year. But during a five-day trial, he insisted that he did not have sex with either of them, because he had no money.

The judge noted that the charge did not specify the exact date, time or place of the offence - elements deemed necessary by the Criminal Procedure Code. He said: "What was significantly worrying was that the initial charge stated that the offence was committed in January last year on a staircase landing of Block 605 in Hougang, but when the trial started on Dec 19, the prosecution amended the charge to state that the offence was committed some time in July this year at the staircase landing of an unknown block in Hougang."

The judge also noted that the statement Mr Md Salauddin gave to the police referred only to the alleged offence last year, and no further statements had been taken from him regarding the amended charge. The court also found that the testimony of the victim was too vague and was not collaborated with any other witness.

The victim is being cared for at the Pertapis Centre for Women and Girls. There is a gag order on her identity.

Mr Md Salauddin, who has been in remand since Aug 22, is now a free man. Six of his colleagues, aged between 23 and 33, were jailed between 10 and 17 months by a district court earlier this year.

Anyone convicted of obtaining the sexual services of a person below 18 years of age can be jailed for up to seven years or fined up to $10,000, or both.

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