Little India Riot: Duo jailed 18 weeks for failing to disperse

The wrecked private bus at the junction of Race Course Road at the aftermath of the Little India riot on Dec 9, 2013. In less than half a minute, construction worker Sakthivel Kumaravelu went from a man chasing after a departing bus to being pinned under its massive wheels.

TWO Indian nationals were each jailed for 18 weeks on Wednesday for their roles in the Dec 8 riot.

Construction worker Thangaiya Selvakumar, 25, and welder Thiagarajan Sribalamurugan, 23, are the fourth and fifth workers, among the 25 who have been charged, to be sentenced.

Both pleaded guilty to the amended charge of failing to disperse despite being lawfully commanded to do so during the violence in Little India.

They had originally faced rioting charges, which carry a maximum sentence of seven years in jail and caning, compared with two years and/or a fine for disobeying dispersal orders.

Their sentences will be backdated to Dec 8, the day of their arrests, and they could be released within a week on the basis of good behaviour.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Sarah Ong had urged the court to sentence them to between 16 and 18 weeks each, noting that they had repeatedly defied police commands to disperse in "blatant disregard for authority" and "contributed to the impediment of the police's efforts to quell the riot".

Earlier this month, three other men were sentenced to serve between 15 and 18 weeks in jail under the same amended charge.

Cases against 20 other Indian nationals are pending. This, even as the Committee of Inquiry into the cause of the riot is under way.

Some 57 foreigners arrested in connection with the incident last year have since been repatriated. Police advisories were issued to 213 others for their passive and incidental involvement in the riot.

hpeishan@sph.com.sg

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