Kidnapping rare because of death penalty

SINGAPORE - Kidnapping hardly occurs here because of the tough laws, criminal lawyers told The New Paper.

Mr Luke Lee, a former police officer who is now a criminal lawyer, said the penalties under the Kidnapping Act deter most from even attempting it.

"If you kidnap someone and the victim gets hurt, it is punishable by death. So the death sentence certainly works very well as a deterrent under the Kidnapping Act," he said.

Mr Lee added that "no resource is spared" in a case of suspected kidnapping.

Another criminal lawyer, Mr Rajan Supramaniam from Hilborne Law LLC, said Singapore's small size could also be another deterrent.

"It's very difficult to hold someone hostage for a long time, especially in such a small place," he said.

"You could leave the jurisdiction, but with the logistics involved and strict border controls, it'll be very difficult (to take a hostage out of Singapore)."

Past kidnapping cases

Aug 7, 2003

Selvaraju Satippan kidnapped MediaCorp journalist Nina Elizabeth Varghese for ransom, tried to murder her, set fire to the clothes in her wardrobe and hurt her with a kitchen knife.

Ms Varghese was tied up with an electrical wire for 3½ hours in her house off Braddell Road before she escaped through a bathroom window.

Selvaraju claimed he had gone to look for her father, financial adviser Roy Abraham Varghese, about an "investment deal". But the court found the claims baseless as he was a stranger to the family.

Selvaraju was sentenced to life imprisonment and 24 strokes of the cane.

Dec 25, 2003

A 35-year-old masked man walked into a Christmas party at a home off Yio Chu Kang Road and kidnapped a seven-year-old girl.

He and his accomplice released her an hour later, but called her businessman father the next day demanding a $1 million ransom.

The father said he could raise only $70,000 and dropped off the money at an SOS phone booth on the Pan-Island Expressway.

Police followed the kidnappers after they picked up the money and arrested them at Tampines Avenue 4.

Aug 10, 2001

Businessman Tay Teng Joo, 32, was beaten and bundled into a panel van outside his two-storey bungalow in Bukit Timah. After he arranged for his family to pay $1.22 million in ransom, he was released at Serangoon Gardens.

His captors, a businesswoman and two renovation contractors, were arrested the next day and jailed for life.