Swiss man's graffiti case in Singapore adjourned

24th June 2010, Comments 0 comments

The case of a Swiss software consultant accused of spray-painting a Singapore metro train with graffiti -- an offence punishable by caning -- was adjourned on Friday, court officials said.

Oliver Fricker, 32, had been expected to enter a plea when he appeared before a district court on Thursday.

But after a brief discussion between the defence and prosecution teams, the lawyers all hurried out of the court, an AFP reporter saw.

"It has been adjourned," Fricker's lawyer Derek Kang told journalists outside the court without elaborating. A court official confirmed to AFP that the case would be heard again on Friday.

Fricker is facing charges of vandalism and trespass after he and a British friend in May allegedly broke into a railway depot and spray-painted graffiti on a train carriage.

Vandalism is punishable by up to three years' jail or a maximum fine of 2,000 Singapore dollars (1,440 US dollars), plus three to eight strokes of a wooden cane, a punishment dating from British colonial rule.

For trespassing into a protected area, Fricker faces two years' jail or a fine of 1,000 dollars, or both.

Singapore considers the intrusion a serious offence because its mass rapid transit system is believed to be the target of Southeast Asian Islamic extremists, and the graffiti incident exposed security lapses.

Fricker is out on bail of 100,000 Singapore dollars and his passport has been impounded after prosecutors called him a flight risk.

Fricker's employer, Zurich-based Comit AG, which specialises in software for the financial industry, confirmed he had been suspended pending the outcome of the trial. He was about to return to Switzerland when he was arrested.

Singapore has issued an international arrest warrant for his alleged accomplice, British national Lloyd Dane Alexander, who left the city-state after the incident in May.

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

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