Law against po­lice tor­ture ex­tends to oth­ers

The New Paper - - NEWS - K. C. VI­JAYAN, THE STRAITS TIMES

Judge ex­plains why he jailed man who beat up teen to get con­fes­sion

A law that makes it an of­fence for the po­lice to use tor­ture to ex­tract con­fes­sions can be used on oth­ers who em­ploy such meth­ods, in­clud­ing vig­i­lantes.

Ex­plain­ing why he jailed a 42-year-old man for 15 months af­ter he had tied up a teen and beat him to wring a con­fes­sion out of him, District Judge Kenneth Yap re­ferred to a High Court prece­dent from 21 years ago that in­volved a sim­i­lar beat­ing by three cops.

The High Court had said, then, that the main aim of the rel­e­vant Sec­tion 330 of the Pe­nal Code was to pre­vent tor­ture by the po­lice, but it also said a bench­mark two-year jail sen­tence may be ap­pro­pri­ate where non-law en­force­ment of­fi­cers were in­volved, other fac­tors be­ing con­sid­ered.

District Judge Yap said the of­fender, whose name was redacted, should not be treated any more le­niently just be­cause he had acted upon a mis­taken be­lief that his vic­tim had hacked his phone when he re­strained and beat him up.

“He had taken cal­cu­lated steps to ex­tract a con­fes­sion in open vi­o­la­tion of the crim­i­nal process, and should be pun­ished in the same mea­sure as any vig­i­lante or abu­sive law en­force­ment of­fi­cer,” the judge said in grounds is­sued on Mon­day.

The man was sen­tenced last month af­ter he ad­mit­ted to ty­ing up and as­sault­ing the boy into a con­fes­sion.

An ad­di­tional charge of wrong­fully con­fin­ing the teen in his Tampines flat for al­most two hours on Nov 18 last year was taken into con­sid­er­a­tion for sen­tenc­ing.

SUS­PI­CION

The elec­tri­cal en­gi­neer was try­ing to un­lock his Google ac­count out­side his flat when he be­came para­noid that some­body had hacked into it.

Spot­ting his vic­tim in the void deck, he sus­pected him and took him into his flat for ques­tion­ing. This was af­ter mid­night.

The boy, who was high on Ice, was said to be afraid the man might have been a po­lice­man.

Dis­sat­is­fied with the boy’s an­swers, the man tied his wrists and legs.

He also slapped and punched him un­til the com­mo­tion roused his fam­ily mem­bers.

The man’s son, a mi­nor, called the po­lice at 2.10am.

The boy was treated at Changi Gen­eral Hospi­tal.

At the hear­ing last month, his lawyer Chow Weng Weng urged the court not to be bound by past prece­dent and ar­gued the rel­e­vant sec­tion in the law was meant mainly to pre­vent po­lice bru­tal­ity, and the High Court’s re­marks on sen­tenc­ing for non-law en­force­ment of­fi­cers were made in pass­ing.

He said the ac­cused and his wife had been vic­tims of cy­ber hack­ing for some months and were up­set.

Deputy Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tor Joshua Je­yaraj called for an 18-month jail term as a start­ing point, given the se­ri­ous­ness of the of­fence — can­ing had been added as an op­tion in 2007.

District Judge Yap, say­ing he was “mind­ful of the spon­ta­neous na­ture of the of­fence” and the ac­cused’s re­morse in com­pen­sat­ing the vic­tim, among other things, scaled the jail term down to 15 months.

“While the ac­cused was mo­ti­vated by a delu­sion, his will­ing­ness to take the law into his own hands was real and de­lib­er­ate. This is the nub of the of­fence,” he said.

vi­jayan@sph.com.sg

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