Second pre-trial conference set for 24 Indian nationals facing rioting charges

The rioters arrested for the fracas that happened in Little India arrive at the Subordinate Courts to be charged for vandalism and rioting with a deadly weapon, on Dec 10, 2013. A second pre-trial conference has been set for the cases against 24 Indi
The rioters arrested for the fracas that happened in Little India arrive at the Subordinate Courts to be charged for vandalism and rioting with a deadly weapon, on Dec 10, 2013. A second pre-trial conference has been set for the cases against 24 Indian nationals facing rioting charges for their alleged role in the Little India mayhem last month. -- ST FILE PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN

A second pre-trial conference has been set for the cases against 24 Indian nationals facing rioting charges for their alleged role in the Little India mayhem last month.

But the next hearing, held for parties to settle administrative matters, will unlikely be heard on the same day for all 24 accused - unlike Wednesday's hearing which involved 23 of them. It is understood that different dates have been set for the accused, which range from as early as next month to as late as March.

At least 15 of the accused who managed to post bail were in court, with a majority decked in a collared shirt and pants, paired with slippers or sandals. This was despite the fact that their presence at the closed door hearing, in which the prosecution appeared via video-link, was not necessary.

One of them, Rajendran Mohan, 25, who is represented by lawyer M. Ravi, told The Straits Times that none of the accused who posted bail are working. But they declined to comment further, as had been advised by their respective lawyers.

Separately, another Indian national, Chinnappa Vijayaragunatha Poopathi, 32, indicated last week that he will plead guilty to an amended charge of failing to disperse. If convicted, he could be jailed for up to five years and/or fined. Rioting carries a possible jail term of up to seven years and caning.

Chinnappa will be back in court on Feb 7 to give his plea.

The Dec 8, 2013 riot was sparked by a fatal traffic accident involving Indian national Sakthivel Kumaravelu. Some 39 Home Team officers were injured and 25 government vehicles damaged after the incident near Race Course Road. It was the worst public order disturbance in the Republic in more than four decades.

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