Swiss consultant charged in Singapore for vandalising train
A Swiss business consultant was charged in court Saturday with breaking into a Singapore metro depot and spray-painting graffiti on a train, offences punishable by jail and caning.
Oliver Fricker, 32, was charged with committing trespass and vandalism in mid-May, and a district judge who described him as a flight risk set bail at 100,000 Singapore dollars (71,000 US). His passport was also impounded.
A worried-looking Fricker told the judge he needed a lawyer and asked that his bail be lowered to 40,000 dollars.
But the judge cut him short and rejected the bail request, stressing the seriousness of the offence.
The official charge sheet said Fricker, who was arrested on May 25, was with a Briton identified as Lloyd Dane Alexander when he broke into the suburban depot, a restricted zone surrounded by fences topped with barbed wire.
It was unclear why Alexander was not charged along with Fricker, and police had no immediate information on the Briton's whereabouts.
The charge sheet said Fricker and Alexander vandalised public property when they cut through a fence and spray-painted two carriages.
A police spokesman described Fricker as a company consultant.
A man by that name is listed in the business networking website Xing as a senior consultant in Singapore in the information-technology field.
Vandalism is punishable by up to three years' jail or a maximum fine of 2,000 Singapore dollars (1,424 US), plus three to eight strokes of a wooden cane, a punishment dating from British colonial rule in Singapore.
An American teenager, Michael Fay, garnered global headlines in 1994 when he was jailed and caned in Singapore after he was found guilty of vandalising several cars. Fay was caned despite a US appeal for clemency.
Prosecutors, arguing for the high bail amount, said Fricker had been due to leave for Switzerland two days after his arrest.
The Swiss embassy is providing consular support to Fricker but says it will not interfere in the trial.
The break-in, believed to have taken place before dawn on May 17, was not immediately detected and the train plied its route in full view of commuters, one of whom filmed it and posted a clip on video-sharing site Youtube.
The train has been scrubbed clean but the clip can still be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1CV4JYKBEQo.
© 2010 AFP