Swiss man in Singapore vandalism case freed on bail
A Swiss business consultant accused of vandalising a Singapore metro train with spray paint was released on bail Monday while awaiting trial on charges that could see him jailed and caned.
Oliver Fricker, 32, posted 100,000 Singapore dollars (71,000 US) for his provisional liberty but his passport is still impounded to prevent him leaving the city-state, which has strict laws against vandalism.
Peter Zimmerli, deputy head of the Swiss embassy in Singapore, told AFP the mission knew of Fricker's release from custody.
"My colleague visited him today... just a normal consular visit," he said, stressing that Switzerland will not interfere in the court case.
Fricker is a senior consultant to an information-technology company in Singapore, according to his profile in a business networking site. The embassy and police have declined to give further personal details.
Singapore's Straits Times suggested that Fricker and a British accomplice who left days after the incident in mid-May 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 punishment dating from British colonial rule.
Fricker is scheduled to appear in court on June 21 on charges of trespass and vandalism.
The court was told during the first session on Saturday that Fricker was with a Briton identified as Lloyd Dane Alexander when he broke into a train depot, a restricted zone surrounded by fences topped with barbed wire.
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.
The Straits Times reported Monday that Fricker and Alexander spray-painted the words "McKoy Banos" on one side of a train -- believed to be the signature of shadowy graffiti artists who have left similar marks on trains around the world.
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
In addition to the vandalism charge, trespassing into a protected place carries a fine of 1,000 dollars or two years' jail, or both.
© 2010 AFP