An Indian construction worker involved in Little India riot last December has been sentenced to a nine-month jail term after he “unreservedly” admitted to being part of an unlawful assembly.
Karuppaiah Chandrasekar, 32, is the ninth Indian national to be jailed for the country’s worst riot in 40 years that occurred in Little India, a precinct of Indian-origin businesses, eateries and pubs.
Ordering the sentence, Senior District Judge Ong Hian Sun said, “This court has to send a strong signal that we cannot tolerate such lawlessness in society.”
The sentence, however, has been backdated to December 12, the day of his arrest and Karuppaiah could be released mid-June on account of good behaviour and will be repatriated, his lawyer said.
“He (Karuppaiah) is relieved that he will soon finish paying his dues and he can go back to India. He is going to get married. The bride has been waiting for him for a while,” The Straits Times quoted his lawyer Kannan S G as saying.
Karuppaiah “unreservedly” admitted to being part of the riot, shouting loudly at police and civil defence officers and throwing projectiles including an empty beer can at a bus, which was involved in a fatal accident, overrunning another Indian national working in the construction sector here.
The charge was amended to being a member of an unlawful assembly which carries maximum jail term of two years and a fine. The original rioting charge carries a jail term of seven years and caning.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Ng Yi-wen called for a stiff sentence of nine months to 12 months, pointing out that Karuppaiah chose to “immerse himself in the situation, joining the crowd to overawe the police and firefighters” despite being “acutely aware” of the situation.
Karuppaiah had worked in Singapore’s construction sector. Cases against 15 men involved in the riot are pending while one has claimed trial with a verdict expected next month.
Some 400 migrant workers from South Asia were at the riot scene in which 54 responding officers were injured and 23 emergency vehicles damaged.