Ex-assistant nurse admits to posting seditious comments and giving false info

Ello finally confessed to posting the comments after being confronted with evidence.
Ello finally confessed to posting the comments after being confronted with evidence.ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - A Filipino assistant nurse who made anti-Singaporean comments on Facebook and gave false information to the police was convicted of three charges on Wednesday.

Ed Mundsel Bello Ello, 29, pleaded guilty to publishing the seditious Facebook comment, and to two counts of lying to the police on Jan 3 and 4 this year.

In his Jan 2 post, he called Singaporeans "loosers" (sic) and vowed to "evict" them from their country. He prayed that "disators" (disasters) would strike Singapore and "more Singaporeans will die" and he would celebrate. The post ended with "Pinoy better and stronger than Stinkaporeans".

On Jan 4, he told a police officer that his Facebook account had been unlawfully accessed by an unknown third party, so that the police would not conduct further investigation into his alleged sedition offence.

The court heard that the police carried out extensive investigations. Six statements were recorded from Ello, and nine from other material witnesses.

Police also seized a computer terminal he allegedly used from a cybercafe at Lucky Plaza. This and two of his mobile devices were sent to the Technology Crime Forensic Branch for forensic analysis.

His employers, Tan Tock Seng Hospital, carried out an inquiry into his online conduct. He persistently denied that he had published the comments. He was later fired.

Ello finally confessed to posting the Jan 2 comments, using his "Edz Ello'' Facebook account at home, after being confronted with evidence.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Kumaresan Gohulabalan said Ello had been regularly commenting on reports and articles relating to Singapore since the middle of last year. These comments included numerous vile, derogatory and offensive posts, which touched on issues of race and nationality.

On Jan 3, his comments were highlighted on The Kaki News Network, a Facebook page primary focused on reporting Singapore-related news with a significant following. It was "liked'' and "followed" by over 30,000 Facebook users.

The DPP said apart from appearing on that Facebook page, the comments Ello made became viral and were circulated extensively on social media sites. Many were outraged by the comments and filed police reports against him.

District Judge Siva Shanmugam postponed sentencing to Sept 16 after hearing prosecution's submissions and mitigation by Ello's lawyers Mark Goh and Ng Boon Gan.

The maximum penalty under the Sedition Act is a $5,000 fine and three years' jail. For giving false information to a public servant, he could be jailed for up to one year and/or fined up to $5,000 per charge.