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24 Indians charged for worst rioting in Singapore

Tuesday, 10 December 2013 - 5:45pm IST | Place: Singapore | Agency: PTI

Twenty-four Indians were on Tuesday charged for alleged rioting in Singapore's worst outbreak of violence in over 40 years, triggered by the death of a compatriot in a road accident.

The men, aged between 22 and 40, were remanded for a week to facilitate further investigations and face one rioting charge each, punishable by up to seven years in prison and caning.

The accused looked sombre as they were brought to the Subordinate Courts in three different police vans before they appearing in the dock to have their charges read out to them in Tamil by an interpreter.

According to the chargesheet, the accused threw pieces of concrete and were "members of an unlawful assembly whose common object was to overawe, by a show of criminal force, police officers in the exercise of their lawful power to maintain law and order at the scene".

The case would be heard again on December 17.

Police had earlier said the suspects could be charged with a more serious offence punishable by up to 10 years in prison. They, however, faced a lesser charge today.

The Criminal Legal Aid Scheme was helping to secure lawyers for all the accused, its representative told the Court. So far, over 10 lawyers have volunteered.

The Indian High Commission in Singapore was working with Singapore's Foreign Affairs Ministry to facilitate consular access and support for the 24 men being charged for their role in riot in Little India, a precinct of Indian-origin businesses, eateries and pubs where most of the South Asian workers take their Sunday break.

The trouble started after a private bus fatally knocked down an Indian pedestrian, 33-year-old Sakthivel Kuaravelu, around 9:20pm at the junction of Race Course Road and Hampshire Road in Little India.

Around 400 South Asian migrant workers were involved in the rampage that left 39 police and civil defence staff injured and 25 vehicles -- including 16 police cars -- damaged or burnt.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday ordered the formation of a special committee to probe the incident and warned to use "full force of the law" against trouble-makers.

Singapore previously witnessed violence of such scale during race riots in 1969.

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