Channel NewsAsia
Updated: 12/29/2013 17:32 | By Channel NewsAsia

2013 a year of some turbulence for Singapore courts

2013 a year of some turbulence for Singapore courts


2013 a year of some turbulence for Singapore courts

SINGAPORE: 2013 was a year of some turbulence for the courts.

It started with the acquittal of the former Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) chief and convictions of two others - the former head of the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) and a former law professor.

And in the later months of the year, more high-profile cases came -- from alleged hackings, murders, to the riot at Little India and the charges that followed.

Mr Ng Boon Gay, Peter Lim and Tey Tsun Hang made the headlines not just in 2012 when they were charged with corruption, but also this year with the twists and turns in their closely-watched trials.

First off, former CNB chief, Mr Ng Boon Gay was acquitted in February, and in early June, the former law professor in the sex-for-grades case, Tey Tsun Hang, was sent to jail for five months.

A week later, ex-SCDF chief Peter Lim was sentenced to 6 months' jail.

While those were ongoing, the trial of the six leaders of City Harvest Church accused of misusing millions of church funds, also started on May 15.

The first day of the highly-anticipated case drew supporters to the court from as early as the night before.

It is anybody's guess if the queues will come back when the trial resumes, but one thing is for sure -- the trial is a long-drawn one, and is expected to last until the end of September 2014.

Other cases that await us next year will be the Kovan double murder.

In July 15, Iskandar Rahmat, a 34-year-old police officer, was charged with the murder of a father and son at Hillside Drive, after he was arrested in Johor Bahru.

Iskandar's case will be mentioned on January 28.

On July 24, an assistant director of the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau was accused of committing 21 offences, including forgery.

39-year-old Edwin Yeo Seow Hiong allegedly misappropriated more than S$1.7 million.

On December 27, Yeo indicated that he intends to plead guilty to the charges and will do so on January 21.

Joining him is the former chief of protocol at the Foreign Affairs Ministry, Lim Cheng Hoe.

The 60-year-old was charged in October with 60 counts of cheating -- over pineapple tarts and bottles of wine -- totalling almost S$89,000.

He allegedly submitted false expense claims between February 2008 and May 2012. Lim's case will be heard on January 9.

Also to be heard in January will be the case involving 35-year-old James Raj Arokiasamy, alleged to be "The Messiah".

Said to be the man behind a spate of hacking incidents, James Raj was charged in court on November with altering the contents on Ang Mo Kio Town Council's website.

This allegedly took place from a Dorchester Apartment at Jalan Sri Hartamas in Kuala Lumpur on October 28, 2013.

Besides this one charge, James Raj also faces four counts of using drugs between May 2011 and November 2013.

“The Messiah” had supposedly hacked into websites belonging to the City Harvest Church co-founder, Sun Ho, The Straits Times blog and the People's Action Party Community Foundation.

If found guilty, the maximum punishment is a three-year jail term and a S$10,000 fine on the first conviction.

The story continued to develop in early December, when authorities revealed that information on close to 650 Standard Chartered's private banking clients were said to have been discovered in a laptop belonging to James Raj.

In November 29, 42-year-old Delson Moo Hiang Kng and 17-year-old Melvin Teo Boon Wei, who met through Facebook, were also accused of hacking into the Istana website.

Teo is accused of modifying the contents of the server hosting the Istana website at 12.33am, while Moo allegedly did the same at 12.34am.

Each of them faces two counts of doing so on November 8 this year.

Court documents state the duo apparently used the search function on the server hosting the website to process scripts, which they supposedly crafted.

This was said to have caused the search function to generate instructions to display texts and images stated in their scripts.

Both cases will be heard in court on January 24.

About a week later, two brothers were also charged with hacking offences.

27-year-old Mohammad Azhar Tahir faces 10 counts, including allegedly modifying contents of the Prime Minister's Office website.

His younger brother, 21-year-old Mohammad Asyiq Tahir faces six charges under the "Computer Misuse and Cybersecurity Act".

They are said to have also hacked into online accounts belonging to three individuals.

Their cases are to be heard on January 6.

And who can forget the violence that broke out on December 8?

Sparked from a fatal bus accident involving 33-year-old Indian national Sakthivel Kumaravelu, 35 men were initially charged in court with involvement in the Little India riot.

Ten of them were later released after the prosecution withdrew their charges.

Life is full of trials and 2014 certainly looks like it might be one of the busiest years for the courts.  - CNA/nd

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