SINGAPORE - A former Traffic Police inspector convicted last year of molesting four male subordinates has been cleared of charges relating to three of them after the High Court allowed his appeal.
Mohd Taufik Abu Bakar, 56, remains convicted of two charges of molesting the fourth man, for which he was sentenced to a 12-week jail term.
Taufik, who has served about half of his original jail sentence of 16 months and nine weeks, was released from prison last Friday (March 22) following his acquittal by the High Court.
His lawyers, Mr Mahmood Gaznavi and Ms Khadijah Yasin, had argued that their client did not have the intention to molest his accusers when he made physical contact with them. The men were then doing their national service as special constables.
They also argued that his position of authority had been "grossly overstated" and this was not a case where he had exerted dominance over helpless subordinates.
The defence argued that while Taufik was undeniably in a more senior role, he was well-known to be a "jokester" and his actions were carried out in the context of friendly banter.
Taufik, who is married, was originally charged with molesting five special constables.
During his trial, he testified that he used terms of endearment like "darling" and "sayang" to his subordinates to make the environment "jovial".
He said he also joked with them by massaging their shoulders for a few seconds and tapping their bodies to "make things lively".
After a six-day trial, a district judge convicted him of molesting four men but acquitted him of molesting the fifth, who said he did not feel violated after the accused grabbed his buttock.
Taufik started serving his sentence in July last year but later appealed against his conviction on the other six charges.
High Court Judge Chan Seng Onn acquitted him of four charges on March 22.
Two charges relate to a 21-year-old Taufik had invited to his flat on Sept 13, 2015, so that he could teach the subordinate how to treat his body odour problem.
He was accused of applying hair removal cream on the man's pubic region and massaging the man's naked body while applying body scrub on him.
The man said he felt that "the whole world collapsed on (him), so all (he) did was comply".
Taufik said he only applied cream to the man's armpits and that he got permission from the subordinate to apply the scrub.
However, Deputy Public Prosecutor Nicholas Lai argued that just because the man did not say anything or stop the accused did not mean that he consented to the acts.
The third charge related to Taufik slapping the buttocks of another subordinate, also 21, as they passed each other in an office corridor in mid-2015. Taufik said this was a "joke".
The fourth charge related to Taufik putting his hand around the waist of a 24-year-old and pulling him close between January and July 2015.
Taufik said he did not know if he had done so but added that there were times when he tried to get the man's attention by tapping his shoulder or slapping his back while the subordinate was using earphones.
However, Justice Chan did not overturn the convictions for two charges that relate to Taufik pinching the nipple of a 22-year-old and squeezing his buttock in mid-2015.
The man said he felt "angry" and "used" in the first incident and that he wanted to elbow the accused's face in the second incident.