Pimp's assistant, 19, loses bid to get jail sentence

SINGAPORE - A teenager on Friday lost his bid to be sent to jail for vice-related and other offences and will instead be sent to a Reformative Training Centre.

Ahmad Habiibul Hakim Assalafi, 19, has already served eight months on remand and instead of a stint at such a centre, which can last from 18 months to three years, he asked to be imprisoned.

His unusual plea came despite the fact that such a sentence would also have meant he would be caned at least six times for knife possession - one of six charges he admitted.

But District Judge Hamidah Ibrahim rejected Hakim's request and ordered him to undergo reformative training, saying she did not understand his preference for imprisonment.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Stella Tan Wei Ling had argued that a stint at the centre was suitable as Hakim was only 19 and not the mastermind of the offences.

Hakim is the second person to be dealt with in an online prostitution ring case, and the centre would give him a chance to learn new skills and become a valued member of society when he is released, she said.

Last month, accomplice Nur Azilah Ithnin, 20, was jailed for 22 months for voluntarily causing grievous hurt to a customer - Frenchman Didier Moise Dominguez, 53 - and taking the drug Ice.

An arrest warrant has been issued for Hakim's sister Nuurul Aliyyah Abdul Talib, 23, who jumped bail. Earlier this year, Hakim was absent without leave from national service as he began a relationship with a 16-year-old girl he met on Facebook.

The minor was tricked into the vice trade by her alleged pimp Malcolm Graham Head, 33, who ran the online ring with his girlfriend. Their cases are pending.

Hakim was Head's assistant and his role included escorting prostitutes to meet customers.

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