Last of 25 Little India rioters found guilty

The last of 25 men to be dealt with in court for their roles in the Little India riot was found guilty yesterday after a three-day trial.

Arun Kaliamurthy (right), an Indian national who has a master's degree in information systems and was looking for a job here, pleaded not guilty to one charge of failing to disperse from the scene, despite police orders. The 29-year-old will be sentenced by District Judge Shaiffudin Saruwan on Tuesday.

Initially, 25 Indian nationals were charged with rioting but 13, including Arun, had their offences amended to charges such as being part of an unlawful assembly, and obstructing a public servant suppressing a riot.

The others have all been convicted and sentenced to between 15 weeks and 33 months in jail. Six rioters also received three strokes of the cane.

Arun is one of only two men to claim trial.

The fracas on the night of Dec 8, 2013, erupted after construction worker Sakthivel Kumaravelu, 33, died in a bus accident in Race Course Road.

By the end of the night, 24 emergency vehicles had been damaged or set on fire, and 43 enforcement officers were injured in the largest riot in over four decades.

Arun initially said he did not hear police commands clearly but later said he heard the words "disperse immediately" coming from a Police Tactical Vehicle in Race Course Road.

He also had "ample opportunity to leave the scene", between 10.42pm and 11.10pm, but chose not to do so, Deputy Public Prosecutor Sellakumaran and Assistant Public Prosecutor Dillon Kok said.

Arun's lawyer, Mr Shashi Nathan, said his client was "merely an innocent bystander" and asked for a fine, or a one-day jail term. But Mr Kok asked for at least 16 weeks' jail.

This article was first published on May 29, 2015.
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