Ninth man convicted for role in Little India riot gets nine months' jail

A construction worker on Thursday became the ninth man to be convicted for his role in the Little India riot, after he pleaded guilty to being a member of an unlawful assembly.

Karuppaiah Chandrasekar, 32, was sentenced to nine months' imprisonment, backdated to his arrest on Dec 12. Senior District Judge Ong Hian Sun said: "This court has to send a strong signal that we cannot tolerate such lawlessness in society."

Singapore's worst public order disturbance in more than four decades on Dec 8 last year saw 23 emergency vehicles damaged and 54 responding officers injured. It was sparked by a road traffic accident in which an Indian national was run over and crushed by a private bus.

Karuppaiah had, after 10pm that evening, joined the rowdy crowd. He shouted loudly at the ground officers and threw an empty beer can in the direction of the damaged bus. He ran away after he realised that some police officers were running in their direction.

In urging the court to pass a stiff sentence, Deputy Public Prosecutor Ng Yiwen said that Karuppaiah was at the material time "acutely aware" of the goings-on, having heard sirens from emergency vehicles, and seen the damaged bus and a torched ambulance. Yet he had "immersed himself in the situation, joining the crowd to overawe the police and fire-fighters", said the state prosecutor.

Karuppaiah had initially faced a rioting charge, which carries a maximum penalty of seven years in jail and caning. But this was amended to one of being a member of an unlawful assembly, under which he could have been jailed up to two years and fined.

He could not afford to post bail since he was charged in court, and has since lost his job with Yun Onn Company.

A total of 25 Indian nationals were charged for their roles in relation to the riot. Six have pleaded guilty to an amended charge of failing to disperse, and were sentenced to between 15 and 18 weeks each. Another two have been convicted of rioting and jailed for 30 and 33 months, with each given three strokes of the cane.

One man, accused of obstructing a police officer by defying orders to leave a restricted area, has claimed trial, with a verdict expected late next month.

Cases against the remaining 15 are still pending.

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