Swiss man admits vandalism, faces caning in Singapore

25th June 2010, Comments 0 comments

A Swiss expatriate pleaded guilty on Friday to vandalism and trespass after he was arrested for spray-painting a Singapore metro train, a crime which carries a sentence of caning and jail.

Oliver Fricker, 32, is to be sentenced later for the two crimes, which alarmed Singapore officials because he was able to break into a subway system that is believed to be a potential terrorist target.

Fricker, a business consultant, is out on a bail of 100,000 Singapore dollars (71,000 US) although his passport has been impounded after prosecutors argued there is a risk he may abscond.

His employer, Zurich-based Comit AG, which specialises in software for the financial industry, confirmed he had been suspended from work pending the outcome of the trial.

Fricker was about to return to Switzerland from his Singapore posting when he was arrested for the May 17 incident. A Briton who has left Singapore is also being sought as an alleged accomplice in the incident with the help of the global law-enforcement group Interpol.

Vandalism is punishable by up to three years in 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 in jail or a fine of 1,000 dollars, or both.

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

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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