SINGAPORE - A sergeant with the Singapore Prison Service, who molested a male inmate in Admiralty West jail, grabbing his buttocks and even groping his private parts, was on Friday (Aug 12) put behind bars for more than two years.
In sentencing Mohamed Faris Osman to 27 months' jail, District Judge May Mesenas said the prison officer had failed to live up to his organisation's core values.
"Captains of Lives is the oft seen tagline which the Singapore Prisons Service prides itself on, for which prison officers aspire to make a difference in the lives of inmates and where they are fair yet firm in the treatment of inmates, and carry themselves as role models ..."
However, Faris, who had worked for the prison authorities for 27 years, abused his position to commit the crimes.
"On the contrary, his numerous acts of molest on an inmate, ironically and regrettably, destroyed the life of the very inmate he was meant to help rehabilitate."
The judge also said a stiff sentence is needed "to reflect the court's abhorrence for such acts of molest committed by (Faris) on a vulnerable class of persons like the victim".
The father of three children stood expressionless in the dock as he was sentenced. He was later handcuffed and led away by policemen. His wife was in court.
Faris was found guilty in June of nine charges of outrage of modesty, after a nine-day trial. He molested the 20-year-old inmate from China on seven days between July and October last year.
Twice, when he was rebuked, Faris asked the inmate: "Officer sayang (love) you, why you no sayang officer?" But the inmate put up with the abuse as he was afraid his jail term would get increased.
It was only when another prison officer noticed that the inmate was depressed and distressed that the matter came to light. The prison superintendent immediately transferred him to another housing unit.
Faris was deployed as a logistics officer at the prison, where the inmate, who was engaged to get married in China, was serving a jail term from April to November last year.
The inmate was part of a team of four to five prisoners tasked to do maintenance and cleaning work at the prison. Faris was the only guard who supervised them every day.
The victim was first molested in July. He was sweeping the floor when Faris slid his hand down his arm. The inmate told him: "I no like you do that."
The next month, Faris' abuse escalated. One day, he poked the inmate's buttocks with his walkie-talkie antenna, and on another occasion, grabbed his buttocks. Two days later, he rubbed his buttocks.
In September, when Faris again poked the inmate with his walkie-talkie antenna, the latter reported sick for two days to avoid seeing the sergeant. Later that month, the court heard, Faris said, "I love you" to the inmate before he touched his private parts twice. The officer then asked the inmate: "Why you no sayang officer?" The inmate replied: "If you really sayang me, you will not do that."
On the morning of Oct 16, Faris patted the inmate's buttock when he bent forward to pick up a box. More incidents followed that day until the inmate refused to work. He was escorted back to his housing unit by the sergeant, who handed him over to a rehabilitation officer.
Noticing that he looked distressed and tearful during a strip search, the officer asked the inmate what happened and was told of Faris' abuse. He also requested to see the prison superintendent.
The inmate said he did not report the abuse earlier because he did not want to get into trouble or be mocked by other inmates. He added that he had also heard of other inmates being sexually harassed.
In a statement in June, the Singapore Prison Service said it takes a serious view of any acts of misconduct by its officers. "When the allegations were made against Faris, SPS immediately reported the incident to the police, and now that he has been convicted, civil service disciplinary proceedings will commence against him, with a view towards his dismissal," it added.