Three fined for sharing images of fatal SAF training accident

From left: Brandon Tan Jien Jet and Muhammad Zaki Haji Mokhtar, who both pleaded guilty to one charge under the OSA, were each fined $1,500, while Muhammad Arif Azman was fined $3,000 after pleading guilty to two charges.
From left: Brandon Tan Jien Jet and Muhammad Zaki Haji Mokhtar, who both pleaded guilty to one charge under the OSA, were each fined $1,500, while Muhammad Arif Azman was fined $3,000 after pleading guilty to two charges.

One of them was an SCDF corporal sent to accident site to help extricate serviceman

Two full-time national servicemen (NSFs) with the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), who were at the scene of last year's fatal training accident involving a Bionix Infantry Fighting Vehicle and a Land Rover, snapped pictures of the tragedy and unlawfully disseminated them via WhatsApp.

Another two men shared the pictures with others.

Yesterday, Muhammad Arif Azman, 22, who held the rank of corporal in the SCDF, was fined $3,000 after pleading guilty to two charges under the Official Secrets Act (OSA).

Brandon Tan Jien Jet, 21, and Muhammad Zaki Haji Mokhtar, 24, were each fined $1,500. They had pleaded guilty to one charge under the OSA.

Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Corporal First Class (CFC) Liu Kai, 22, a full-time national serviceman (NSF), was killed in the accident on Nov 3 last year. A transport operator from SAF's Transport Hub West, he died after the Bionix mounted a Land Rover that he was driving at Murai Urban Training Facility.

The court heard that Tan was an SCDF NSF holding the rank of Sergeant 1, while Zaki had already completed his national service at the time.

The OSA-related cases involving two other men, who were then serving their national service with SCDF, are still pending. The duo are Mohamad Haikal Mohd Zainal Abiddin and Thng Yu Xuan, both aged 21.

All five men, who were attached to Jurong Fire Station, have since completed their national service.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Angela Ang told the court yesterday that Arif, Haikal and Thng were sent to the accident site around 10.20am to help extricate CFC Liu.

"Prior to assisting his teammates in the extrication, Arif used his personal mobile phone to take two photographs of the scene, both of which captured the Bionix and the Land Rover crushed beneath it... Haikal similarly used his personal mobile phone and took five photographs of the scene... None of the five photographs show the deceased."

 
 
 
 

The SCDF personnel returned to Jurong Fire Station around 2pm.

Court documents show Arif and Haikal sent the photographs to a WhatsApp chat group with 24 present and former SCDF personnel of the fire station.

After receiving the seven photographs, Tan forwarded two of them to another WhatsApp chat group comprising six other friends. Meanwhile, Zaki forwarded two of the pictures to his brother who was curious about the accident.

At about 4pm on the same day, Jurong Fire Station commander Dinesh K. Verlachamy received information from an SCDF public affairs officer that a photograph of the accident site was circulating on WhatsApp.

Captain Dinesh conducted interviews to ascertain how the photograph was leaked. DPP Ang said Arif and Haikal were identified as having taken and circulated the pictures.

Capt Dinesh directed all the SCDF personnel at Jurong Fire Station to immediately delete all photographs of the accident scene. Arif did not comply, the court heard.

Separately, on Oct 25 this year, an SAF officer was charged in court over CFC Liu's death.

Regular serviceman Ong Lin Jie, 28, a captain, was charged with performing a rash act causing death.

Ong's pre-trial conference will be held on Dec 23.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 03, 2019, with the headline 'Three fined for sharing images of fatal SAF training accident'. Print Edition | Subscribe