Little India Riot: More than half of those charged have been convicted, says DPM Teo

Some of the men being detained by the police after a riot that broke out at Little India on Dec 8, 2013. More than half of the 25 Indian nationals charged in court for their roles in the Little India riot on Dec 8 last year have been found guilt
Some of the men being detained by the police after a riot that broke out at Little India on Dec 8, 2013. More than half of the 25 Indian nationals charged in court for their roles in the Little India riot on Dec 8 last year have been found guilty. -- PHOTO: ST FILE 

SINGAPORE - More than half of the 25 Indian nationals charged in court for their roles in the Little India riot on Dec 8 last year have been found guilty.

Of the 25 who faced charges ranging from rioting to being a member of an unlawful assembly, 14 have been convicted and sentenced so far, said Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean in Parliament on Monday. Eight of them have since completed their sentences and have been repatriated. Cases against the other 11 men are still pending.

Police arrested 25 people at the scene of the riot, with more than 400 people called up for further investigations. Eventually, besides the 25 men charged, another 57 were repatriated whilst another 213 were given police advisories but allowed to continue working here.

The fracas seven months ago was the worst public order disturbance incident to hit Singapore in more than four decades. A Committee of Inquiry (COI) convened to establish the root cause of the violence has found that it was not caused by any deep-seated unhappiness among the foreign workers.

Rather, it was triggered by an "emotional outburst" following a fatal accident in which Indian national construction worker Sakthivel Kumaravelu, 33, was run over by a private bus operated by BT&Tan. "The victim's own actions were primarily responsible for the accident. The victim was intoxicated, had lost his balance, and had fallen under the bus while running in the bus driver's blind spot," noted Mr Teo.

During the two-hour mayhem, 54 police officers and other first responders were injured, and more than $530,000 worth of government property was damaged. This included 23 emergency vehicles, five of which were set on fire.