Four Singaporean men have received suspended jail terms for sexually assaulting two women in Taipei last December, local media reported.
The relatively lenient sentence means that the four - undergraduates Lau Wei Seng, Bryan Ong Kun Jun, Tan Juan Yin and Lim Wei Xuan - will not have to serve time behind bars, but live under supervised probation in Taiwan for the next four to five years, reported two dailies, the mass-circulation United Daily News and China Times, yesterday.
The Shihlin District Court in Taipei was quoted as saying in a statement that the four men were remorseful and had reached a settlement with the victims, paying them an unspecified sum in compensation.
The women had also forgiven the four men and even pleaded for leniency for them, the court added.
"If they are sentenced to jail, this will not only hinder their rehabilitation but also add to social costs," the court was quoted as saying.
It added that all four had already been "taught a very tough lesson" as they were unable to return to Singapore or continue their studies.
The Straits Times reported in March that Lau was an exchange student in a university in Taipei, while the rest were visiting him.
The group met the women at a dance club on Dec 11 last year, and invited them through a social messaging app to a hostel for drinks. The women were drunk when they were assaulted.
All four men were arrested by police two days later while apparently on their way to catch a flight to return to Singapore. All four, with luggage in tow, were nabbed at the Ximen subway station in Taipei's Ximending shopping district.
The court said Lau was sentenced to one year and 11 months in jail with the sentence suspended for five years; Ong was sentenced to one year and 10 months in jail with the sentence suspended for five years; Tan was sentenced to one year and nine months with the sentence suspended for four years; and Lim was sentenced to one year and eight months in jail with the sentence suspended for four years.
All four men, who are in their early 20s, are out on bail to allow them to appeal, local media reported. They are barred from leaving Taiwan.