Singapore launches manhunt for alleged British vandal
Singapore on Tuesday launched a global manhunt for a Briton suspected of involvement in a train vandalism case that raised doubts about the security of key installations in the city state.
A warrant of arrest was issued against Lloyd Dane Alexander, a British citizen accused of being the accomplice of a Swiss business consultant, 32-year-old Oliver Fricker, who is now on bail in Singapore.
Both men could face jail, fines and caning for allegedly breaking into a protected subway depot and spray-painting elaborate graffiti on a parked train in May.
The prank is regarded as a serious breach of security in Singapore, which says its transport system is a potential terrorist target.
"Police have also alerted all the INTERPOL member countries to look out for the said accomplice and to render us information should he be found in their jurisdiction," a police spokesman said Tuesday after the warrant was issued.
The International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) is based in Lyon, France and facilitates cross-border police cooperation, including hunting down fugitives from justice.
Sources familiar with international manhunts said the Singapore police will decide their next move only after receiving information about Alexander's whereabouts.
Any extradition proceedings will have to be launched at the diplomatic level, they said.
The Swiss suspect, Fricker, posted 100,000 Singapore dollars (71,000 US) bail on Monday but his passport has been impounded to prevent him leaving Singapore during his trial.
Police officials said Alexander left Singapore before the incident was reported to the authorities.
They declined to comment on local media reports that the British national may have flown to Hong Kong.
Singapore's Straits Times has suggested that Fricker and Alexander could be part of a group of underground graffiti artists targeting metro trains around the world.
Vandalism is punishable by up to three years' jail or a maximum fine of 2,000 Singapore dollars, plus three to eight strokes of a wooden cane -- a practice dating back to British colonial rule in Singapore.
In addition to the vandalism charge, Fricker faces two years' jail or a fine of 1,000 dollars, or both, for trespassing into a protected area.
The train has been scrubbed clean but the clip taken by a commuter can still be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1CV4JYKBEQo
Singapore's vandalism laws became global news in 1994 when an American teenager, Michael Fay, was caned for damaging cars and public property despite appeals for clemency from the US government.
© 2010 AFP