Little India riot: Bus driver will not face charges

Photo of the riot that broke out in Little India after a fatal accident between a private bus and a foreign worker.

SINGAPORE - The bus driver involved in a fatal accident that sparked the Little India riot on Dec 8 last year will not face any criminal charges.

The Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) said on Tuesday Mr Lee Kim Huat, 55, was not found culpable of any offence after it "carefully and extensively studied" the evidence from the Traffic Police.

The riot erupted after the private bus driven by Mr Lee ran over and killed Indian national Sakthivel Kumaravelu, 33.

A more complete picture of what happened in the minutes before he died emerged on Tuesday, when the AGC explained why no action will be taken against Mr Lee, who has the alias Lim Hai Tiong.

It said Mr Sakthivel, a construction worker, was "moderately to severely intoxicated" when he stumbled and fell into the path of the moving bus. Blood tests showed he had nearly three times the amount of alcohol allowed for motorists.

At 9.15pm that day, he boarded the BT & Tan bus in Tekka Lane, bound for his Jurong dormitory. When he suddenly dropped his Bermuda shorts, he was asked to get off. He complied, but then went after the bus as it moved off.

Mr Lee drove slowly through crowded Tekka Lane, heading towards Race Course Road at between 5.6kmh and 5.9kmh, the AGC said.

Mr Sakthivel caught up and touched the moving bus as he ran alongside it. Seconds later, he fell just as Mr Lee was turning left into Race Course Road and looking out for traffic from the right.

The AGC said Mr Lee could not have been expected to foresee that Mr Sakthivel had run after the bus, or that the worker would fall into its path.

Mr Lee will be a witness at the Committee of Inquiry hearing into the riot, which will begin next Wednesday.

On Monday, Indian national Chinnappa Vijayaragunatha Poopathi, 32, was jailed 15 weeks for continuing to be in an assembly after it was ordered to disperse. Cases against 24 others, who face rioting charges, are pending.

A spokesman for India's External Affairs Ministry said on Tuesday that India was aware of the verdict against Chinnappa in Singapore.

"We are in constant touch with the Singapore side so that all Indians are provided due process of law and legal assistance," said Mr Syed Akbaruddin.

He added that a senior ministry official will be in Singapore on Friday to discuss bilateral issues, as well as developments related to the riot.

waltsim@sph.com.sg


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