Insult of modesty

Student allowed to leave S'pore

A district judge yesterday granted permission to a Singaporean student from a top British university, who is accused of multiple counts of insulting a woman's modesty, to leave Singapore to study from Jan 13 to March 16.

But the student might have to put his travelling plans on hold for now as the prosecution will be filing a motion in the High Court against the decision. This means he cannot leave the country next week if the motion is not heard in time.

Both the student and his university cannot be named due to a gag order to protect the victims' identities.

Noting that the 22-year-old man intends to claim trial to the charges, District Judge Adam Nakhoda said: "It is not for me at this time to decide if he is guilty or not. It would be reasonable to allow the accused to leave jurisdiction to continue his education, at least for the next school term."

The accused had filed a similar application last year and was allowed to leave Singapore. He was facing only two charges at the time. He now faces 19 counts of insulting a woman's modesty, and one charge of possessing obscene films. The cases are said to involve 11 women in total.

In opposing the student's application in the district court to leave the country, the prosecution described him as a flight risk and said he was unlikely to return home given the severity of the offences.

It also noted the aggravating factors with regard to the crimes which generally warranted imprisonment, including multiple victims, a long offending period of more than three years, and the fact that one of the victims was a minor when she was allegedly filmed.

The prosecution said that 16 of the 20 videos taken were recorded after the accused had invited the victims to his residence. There was therefore a "significant degree of planning and premeditation in the commission of the offences".

The student was offered bail of $20,000 yesterday, and the pre-trial conference for his case will be held on Jan 28.

Offenders convicted of insulting a woman's modesty can be jailed for up to a year and fined for each charge.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 11, 2020, with the headline 'Student allowed to leave S'pore'. Print Edition | Subscribe