German tourists face caning in Singapore

German tourists face caning in Singapore
The two men arriving in court in Singapore in November. Photo: DPA
Two German tourists have been sentenced to nine months in prison and three strikes with a cane for spraying graffiti in the conservative city's underground rail system.

Judge Liew Thiam Leng said on Thursday the two culprits had carried out a premeditated crime after previously scouting out the scene.

Although the accused pleaded guilty, he accepted the prosecution's demands for a severe punishment, arguing that it should also serve as a deterrent to others.

The corporal punishment is to be administered with a cane against the prisoners' naked buttocks

"This is the darkest episode in my life," the 22-year-old accused told the court. "I'm so upset with myself that I carried out this idiotic act."

"I promise never to do such a thing again," his 21-year-old partner in crime said. "I must not only apologise to you but also to my family, who I have let down."

The pair did not question the prosecutor's version of events – that in November of last year they infiltrated an underground station and spray-painted a train carriage.

Their defender, Christopher Bridges, pleaded for a five month jail sentence and three canings. He also appealed for leniency.

"Since I met the two for the first time I have seen a clear transformation. I believe they deeply regret their crime," he said.

As proof, Bridges cited the fact that the family had gathered money and sent train operator, SMRT a cheque to cover the repair of the damage.

SMRT, however, sent the cheque back.

The accused were brought into the court in handcuffs. Both wore white t-shirts with the inscription "prisoner" on the back.

Left of the judge's lectern stood the evidence: twelve spray cans.

Spraying graffiti is considered a serious crime in Singapore. The city-state places considerable emphasis on discipline, order and above all cleanliness. Vandalism is severely punished.

In 2010 a Swiss man was sentenced to five months in jail and three canings for a similar crime.

The two youths from Leipzig were arrested in Malaysia two weeks after the crime.

Since then they have been detained in custody, a period which will be included in the sentence.

They are due for release in August.


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