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First man convicted of rioting in S'pore gets jail, 3 strokes of the cane

Publication Date : 09-05-2014


The first man to plead guilty to rioting during last December's unrest in Little India was on Thursday sentenced to 30 months in jail and three strokes of the cane.

Ramalingam Sakthivel,  33, was also sentenced to 27 months' jail for causing mischief by fire, after the court had earlier seen CCTV evidence that showed he had attempted to set a private bus on fire. The sentences are to run concurrently,  and to be backdated to his remand date of December 8.

The court had earlier heard that Ramalingam had pelted police officers and vehicles with projectiles, smashed the windscreen of a police vehicle with a wooden pole,  and helped flip a police car.  He had also attacked an ambulance with a pole while Home Team officers were inside the Singapore Civil Defence Force vehicle.

"The accused was no meek follower - he rallied others to join him and pursued a course of conduct that showed him to be unfazed of the risk to his own life and limb," said Deputy Presiding Judge Jennifer Marie, who pointed out that Ramalingam had displayed "open hostility"  against law enforcement officers. "The audacious acts of violence by the accused reflected his contempt for authority,  and law and order."

The judge also said that while she had taken into account mitigating factors raised by the defence, including that Ramalingam had not committed any previous offences in the five years he has worked here, his actions could not be considered in isolation.

"The point of a rioting charge of this nature is that the accused is held accountable of the acts of all involved, " she said." Each individual who takes an active part by deed or encouragement is guilty of the collective offence of rioting."

Ramalingam, who is a construction worker, was silent and had his head bowed as the sentence was read out. His lawyer, Justin Tan from Trident Law, said the sentence was fair, and that his client does not plan to appeal.

Six men have served sentences for other charges over the Little India riot, and 18 others have cases pending in court.


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