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Little India Riot: Rioting charges against seven dropped

Charges against seven of 33 Indian nationals who were charged last week for their alleged roles in the Dec 8 Little India riot were dropped on Tuesday afternoon. -- ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN
Charges against seven of 33 Indian nationals who were charged last week for their alleged roles in the Dec 8 Little India riot were dropped on Tuesday afternoon. -- ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

Charges against seven of 33 Indian nationals who were charged last week for their alleged roles in the Dec 8 Little India riot were dropped on Tuesday afternoon.

The cases against 21 others were also heard in court, with the prosecution applying for them to be remanded for another week for further police investigations. In his application, Deputy Public Prosecutor John Lu cited the copious amount of work to be done, such as going through the statements of all accused involved, the evidence of more than 300 police officers at the scene, video clips and surveillance camera recordings.

District Judge Lim Tse Haw agreed to the request, but not without requesting the prosecution to ask the police to "expedite" matters. When he asked if the defendants had anything to say, some suspects took the opportunity to speak up, through an interpreter. Some alleged assault by police officers while under lock-up in a "place where there was no camera", and expressed concerns that their family have yet to be notified. Others denied involvement in the riot, saying that they were in Little India to remit money, or saying that the charges were "fabrications" as they were not even at the scene at the material time.

Lawyer Amarick Gill said all 21 of them are eligible for the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme, which is "working very hard to get them assigned lawyers as soon as possible". The cases against five others who were also charged last week will be heard in the next few days.

Meanwhile, two more men were charged in court for their involvement in the Dec 8 riot, namely Samiyappan Sellathurai, 41, and Sarangan Kumaran, 35. They are accused of being part of an unlawful assembly and throwing pieces of concrete at other people in the vicinity of Race Course Road and Kerbau Road between 9.20pm and 10.30pm.

Both face one charge of rioting each and if convicted, they could be jailed up to seven years and be liable to caning. Samiyappan and Sarangan were told that they could apply for the Law Society's Criminal Legal Aid Scheme if they are unable to engage counsel on their own.