NTU student's false report of assault sparked manhunt

The police said that investigations revealed that the student had provided false information and the alleged assault did not occur. ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI

SINGAPORE (THE NEW PAPER) - The police mounted a massive hunt in the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and nearby wooded areas after a student reported she was assaulted on campus last Saturday evening (Dec 14).

The report, which was made at about 6.30pm, resulted in the deployment of dozens of officers from various units, including the Ground Response Force, Gurkha Contingent, Criminal Investigation Department and K-9 Unit.

But their investigations subsequently revealed that the student, 19, had provided false information and that no such assault had taken place.

A police spokesman told The New Paper at around 10am on Sunday that the student, who claimed she was assaulted at Nanyang Walk, is now under investigation for providing false information to the police.

"The police would like to urge members of the public to refrain from commenting or speculating on the case so as to avoid causing unnecessary alarm," the spokesman added.

TNP understands the student had claimed she was attacked by multiple perpetrators who then fled into the surrounding forested areas.

A spokesman for the Singapore Civil Defence Force told TNP that a single ambulance was deployed at about 7pm last Saturday.

Its paramedics tended to the student, who had minor injuries and was not taken to hospital.

It is unclear how she had sustained the injuries.

At the height of the manhunt, officers were stationed at the area's entrances and exits to ensure the "assailants" did not slip away.

Several students also said on social media that officers had boarded buses on campus to question passengers.

Heavy police presence was reported in the area around NTU Hall 16 at 50 Nanyang Walk, where the assault was alleged to have occurred.

TNP understands that the police forces also combed the nearby forested areas in vain for the alleged perpetrators.

It is not clear when the search was called off, but TNP understands that conflicting accounts by the student had cast doubt on her report by the early hours of Sunday.

Earlier, at about 2am, the NTU Students' Union urged those on campus to stay indoors after what it understood to be a reported case of assault.

The statement on its Instagram page also said that those involved were helping the police in investigations.

SPECULATION

This sparked speculation by students on social media that a rape and murder had taken place. Others claimed military personnel had been deployed, but this was also untrue.

At 11am, the union posted an update that it had issued its previous statement after the Student Affairs Office and Office of Student Life confirmed the police report.

"We are relieved to share that any incident of assault did not take place, and all students are safe," it added, and urged students to confirm the reliability of sources because "speculation and spreading of fake news can hold serious repercussions".

Online media platform Mothership.sg, which reported on the incident before it was confirmed to be false, sparked further concern online by claiming students had heard loud sounds like shotgun shots at around midnight.

TNP has confirmed that no firearms were involved in the incident.

Mothership.sg later amended its report to note the probe on the student for giving false information.

An NTU spokesman said on Sunday that the university was aware of the incident and was helping the police with their investigations.

"We would like to assure the NTU community that there is no cause for concern about their safety on campus," he said.

"The university is reaching out to affected students to provide them with the necessary care and support from the university's pastoral care team."

Universities here improved campus security this year after some well-publicised cases of sexual misconduct.

It is a crime to give false information to any public servant. Those found guilty can be jailed for up to six months, or fined up to $5,000, or both.

If the false information results in a public servant using his or her lawful power to the injury or annoyance of another person, those found guilty of providing the false information can be jailed for up to a year, or fined up to $5,000, or both.

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