2010/07/10

Swiss president accepts Singapore train vandal's sentence

SINGAPORE, July 10, 2010 (AFP) - Switzerland's president did not plead for leniency for a Swiss train vandal during a visit to Singapore, and said there was there was no "big debate" over the issue, reports said Saturday.

Oliver Fricker, a 32-year-old Swiss national, was sentenced to five months' jail and three strokes of the cane in June after pleading guilty to breaking into a metro depot and spray-painting a train.

In a meeting with Singapore president S.R. Nathan, Switzerland's Doris Leuthard said that punishing Fricker was "correct" but added that caning was not the Swiss way.

"I discussed it with the president, but you know for us it is not a big debate," Leuthard said according to the Straits Times.

"We agree that he is guilty, which he also accepts by the way. It's correct what you do but it's not our way," she added.

Leuthard also said Singapore should rethink its policy on caning as many countries had abandoned corporal punishment, but added that this was a decision only the local authorities could make, the Straits Times said.

Fricker, who had been working in Singapore as a software consultant, is currently serving his sentence but his lawyer has tabled an appeal for a reduced jail term.

Singapore has also launched an international manhunt for Fricker's accomplice, 29-year-old Briton Lloyd Dane Alexander, who allegedly planned the act but left the city-state before he could be caught.

Singapore's tough vandalism laws first 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