2010/06/05

Swiss man faces jail, caning for Singapore graffiti: police

SINGAPORE, June  4, 2010 (AFP) - Singapore police said Friday they would file criminal charges against a Swiss man who broke into a subway depot and spray-painted graffiti on a train, offences punishable by jail and caning.

The 33-year-old, whose name was withheld until his court appearance on Saturday, is to be charged with committing trespass and vandalism between May 16 and 17, the Singapore Police Force said in a statement.

He was arrested about a week after the incident.

The Straits Times newspaper reported that the suspect was believed to have cut his way into the depot, a restricted zone surrounded by fences topped with barbed wire.

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.

The Swiss embassy was providing consular support to the arrested man.

"The embassy cannot, however, interfere in an eventual trial," Peter Zimmerli, the embassy's deputy head, said in an email.

The train was scrubbed clean afterwards but a clip on video-sharing site Youtube  -- still visible at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1CV4JYKBEQo -- shows the vandalised train leaving a suburban station.