14 workers from India plead guilty to unlawful assembly leading to fight with poles and rods

Fourteen foreign workers, aged between 21 to 39, pleaded guilty on Thursday to being part of an unlawful assembly in relation to a fight last March in Little India.

Eleven of them were each sentenced to seven months in jail, and the remaining three were dealt an additional week for stealing food and beer from supermarkets.

Mostly construction workers hailing from India, the 14 got into a fight with another group on Mar 31 2013 near the Farrer Park MRT station in an incident the prosecution called "a large scale public order offence".

An estimated 40 to 50 persons took part in this clash, including the fourteen who admitted their guilt in court on Thursday.They could face imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years and/or a fine.

Assistant public prosecutor Dillon Kok, in his submissions urged the court to sentence them to nine months in jail as the fight was deliberate, involved "deadly weapons such as wooden poles and metal rods", led to "serious injuries" on both sides "including some life threatening ones", and "caused massive public disquiet".

Police were alerted to the fight at about 9pm on Mar 31 after a caller informed them that "a riot is about to take place" and described the accused as being "armed with sticks and rods".

According to court documents, members on both sides charged at each other with weapons raised in a "free-for-all", exchanging blows with bare fists, too, for about two minutes.

When the police arrived at the scene, they found a number of casualties who were subsequently conveyed to Tan Tock Seng Hospital. Injuries ranged from lacerations to open wounds, skull fractures, and even 10-day long post-traumatic amnesia.

Investigations unearthed bad blood between certain members of both groups as the source of the incident. Two of the five who have been identified from the opposing group will appear in court at the end of March and early in April. The remaining three are still at large.

Join ST's WhatsApp Channel and get the latest news and must-reads.