Twenty-four Indians were charged for alleged rioting triggered by the death of a compatriot in a road accident, Singapore's worst outbreak of violence in over 40 years, even as eight more Indians were arrested today.
The men, aged between 22 and 40, were remanded for a week to facilitate further investigations and face one rioting charge each, punishable by up to seven years in prison and caning.
The accused looked sombre as they were brought to the Subordinate Courts in three different police vans before they appeared in the dock to have their charges read out to them in Tamil by an interpreter.
According to the chargesheet, the accused threw pieces of concrete and were "members of an unlawful assembly whose common object was to overawe, by a show of criminal force, police officers in the exercise of their lawful power to maintain law and order at the scene".
The case would be heard again on December 17.
Police today arrested more people over the riot in Little India, and a Committee of Inquiry (COI) to look into the case will be formed by the end of this week, local media reported. Police said more people may be arrested in the coming days.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had yesterday ordered the formation of a special committee to probe the incident and warned to use "full force of the law" against trouble-makers.
Police had earlier said the suspects could be charged with a more serious offence punishable by up to 10 years in prison. They, however, faced a lesser charge today.
The Criminal Legal Aid Scheme was helping to secure lawyers for all the accused, its representative told the Court. So far, over 10 lawyers have volunteered.
The Indian High Commission in Singapore was working with Singapore's Foreign Affairs Ministry to facilitate consular access and support for the 24 men being charged for their role in the riot in Little India, a precinct of Indian-origin businesses, eateries and pubs where most of the South Asian workers take their Sunday break.
The trouble started after a private bus fatally knocked down an Indian pedestrian, 33-year-old Sakthivel Kumaravelu, around 9:20 pm at the junction of Race Course Road and Hampshire Road.
About 400 South Asian migrant workers were involved in the rampage that left 39 police and civil defence staff injured and 25 vehicles including 16 police cars damaged or burnt.
© Copyright PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of any PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.