Norwegian man who was jailed 10 weeks for assaulting cabby back in court for retrial

Arne Corneliussen has served more than half of his 10-week jail term after admitting to choking Chan Chuan Heng, a taxi driver.
Arne Corneliussen has served more than half of his 10-week jail term after admitting to choking Chan Chuan Heng, a taxi driver.ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW
Taxi driver Chan Chuan Heng showing how Arne Corneliussen held him in a chokehold.
Taxi driver Chan Chuan Heng showing how Arne Corneliussen held him in a chokehold.PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER
Muhd Fairuz Junahat, one of two passers-by who had pulled Arne Corneliussen away from Chan Chuan Heng.
Muhd Fairuz Junahat, one of two passers-by who had pulled Arne Corneliussen away from Chan Chuan Heng.ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW
Choithramani Chandru Bhaqwandas, one of two passers-by who had pulled Arne Corneliussen away from Chan Chuan Heng.
Choithramani Chandru Bhaqwandas, one of two passers-by who had pulled Arne Corneliussen away from Chan Chuan Heng.ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - The retrial of a Norwegian man - who has served more than half the 10-week jail term meted out to him in April after he admitted to choking a taxi driver - began on Monday (Dec 28).

Arne Corneliussen had earlier pleaded guilty to hurting Chan Chuan Heng at about 1 am on Sept 22 last year, at the junction of Circular and North Canal roads, by grabbing Chan's neck from behind and choking him after the cabby fell down.

A charge of slapping the cabby's cheek was taken into consideration during sentencing.

Corneliussen, 51, a Singapore permanent resident, also paid the victim $30,000 in compensation, and lost his job as a programme management director with multinational logistics company DHL.

After he was convicted and sentenced, however, two Singaporean men who read a newspaper report on the case and had witnessed the altercation between Chan and Corneliussen came forward to say that Chan, 47, was actually the aggressor.

Mr Mohamed Ayub Shaik Dawood and his friend Mr Roslan Zainal sought out Corneliussen's lawyer and filed affidavits on their account of what happened. They were not at the scene when police arrived, and did not come forward during investigations.

In May, the High court quashed Corneliussen's conviction and sentence, and sent the case back to the State Courts for a retrial.

Corneliussen, who had served six weeks of his jail term, was released on $5,000 bail.

His lawyer Terence Seah had said that Corneliussen had pleaded guilty because he was too drunk to remember the details of the fight, and the police had eyewitness accounts that he had attacked Chan.

Two passers-by, who had pulled Corneliussen away from Chan, had told police that they had seen the Norwegian chasing the taxi driver and choking him.

But Mr Ayub said that he saw Chan punch Corneliussen on the left side of his head during an argument about fares, causing the latter to squat down in a daze.

When Corneliussen asked the driver why he had hit him, Chan purportedly tried to run away. Corneliussen allegedly caught up with him and pinned him down, before being pulled away.

According to his affidavit, Mr Roslan did not see the punch but heard a loud smacking sound, after which he saw the cabby, arms akimbo, standing over Corneliussen, who was squatting with his hands covering his face.

Both Mr Ayub and Mr Roslan are expected to testify in the afternoon.

The two passers-by who had pulled Corneliussen away from Chan - senior operations supervisor Muhd Fairuz Jumahat, 29, and cabby Choithramani Chandru Bhaqwandas, 46 - testified in the morning.

Chan has since also been charged with causing hurt, and with providing false information to the police. His case is before the courts.

The penalty for causing hurt is a jail term of up to two years and/or a fine of up to $5,000.

The penalty for giving false information to the police is a jail term of up to one year and/or a fine of up to $5,000.