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The Star Online: Metro: South & East

Indian worker gets jail, caning for Singapore riot

Posted: 08 May 2014 02:53 AM PDT

SINGAPORE: A Singapore court on Thursday sentenced an Indian construction worker to 30 months in jail and three strokes of the cane for his role in a rare riot in the city-state.

Ramalingam Sakthivel, 33, had pleaded guilty to taking part in a street rampage last December that left 39 people injured including policemen and 25 vehicles destroyed.

In the incident, an estimated 400 migrant labourers from South Asia enjoying a Sunday off work erupted in anger after an Indian worker was crushed to death under a bus in Singapore's congested Little India district.

It was one of Singapore's worst outbreaks of violence since the 1960s, and brought into sharp focus the way the wealthy city-state manages its nearly one million low-paid foreign workers.

"The accused was no meek follower - he rallied others to join him and pursued a course of conduct that showed him to be unfazed of the risk to his own life and limb," Deputy Presiding Judge Jennifer Marie said in a written judgement.

According to court documents, Ramalingam attacked police officers on the scene by throwing pieces of concrete and beer bottles.

He then rallied a group of rioters to assist him in flipping over a police vehicle.

Ramalingam also used a pole to repeatedly strike an ambulance in which several officers and paramedics were taking cover.

He was also sentenced to 27 months in jail for setting fire to the bus that knocked down and killed the worker. The sentences are to be served concurrently.

Singapore imposes caning with a rattan pole for serious crimes. The punishment entails being struck on the back of the thigh below the buttocks, which can split the skin and leave lasting scars.

Courts are allowed to order up to 24 strokes of the cane for the worst offences such as rape.

More than 50 workers were quickly deported after the riot while 25 Indian nationals are either serving jail sentences or awaiting trial in connection with the violence.

Foreigners who are convicted of criminal offences are typically deported once they complete their sentences.

Singapore has a total population of 5.4 million, but only 3.84 million are citizens and permanent residents. - AFP

S. Korea ferry owner detained, licence to be revoked

Posted: 08 May 2014 01:08 AM PDT

SEOUL: South Korea said Thursday it would revoke the licence of the company owning the ferry that sank with the loss of around 300 lives last month, as prosecutors prepared manslaughter charges against its chief executive.

Kim Han-Sik, head of Chonghaejin Marine Co., was picked up at his home south of Seoul and taken into custody in the southwestern port city of Mokpo.

"Kim faces various charges including manslaughter and violating maritime law," senior prosecutor Yang Jong-Jin told AFP.

The charges stem from allegations that Kim was involved in, or turned a blind eye to, the overloading of the Sewol's cargo consignment - seen as a major contributing factor to its capsize on April 16.

Meanwhile the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries said it planned to close down Chonghaejin's ferry operations entirely.

In a statement, the ministry said it would begin by revoking the company's license to operate the route taken by the Sewol from the western port of Incheon to the southern island of Jeju.

At the same time it would pressure the owners to give up the licences to its two other routes between the mainland and outlying islands.

"The name of Chonghaejin Marine Co. will never be allowed to darken the ferry industry again," a ministry spokesman told AFP.

Handcuffed and wearing a cap and surgical mask that hid his face, company head Kim Han-Sik was paraded before TV cameras after he was detained.

"I apologise to the victims and the families," he said.

He then refused to answer further questions from reporters, staying silent with his head bowed.

The captain of the Sewol ferry has already been arrested along with 14 crew members and four lower-ranking Chonghaejin Marine officials.

The ferry had 476 people on board when it sank after listing sharply to one side and then rolling over.
Initial investigations suggest it was carrying up to three times its safe cargo capacity.

The confirmed death toll stood at 269 on Thursday, with 35 people still unaccounted for.

Ko Myung-Sok, spokesman for the federal disaster force, said operations to recover the remaining bodies had been repeatedly suspended because of conditions at sea, with powerful currents a constant danger for the dive teams.

"So far, 24 divers have been treated for injuries and decompression sickness," Ko said.
The death of a diver on Tuesday has fuelled debate as to how long the recovery operation should continue.

The deciding factor so far has been the sensitivities of the relatives of those still unaccounted for.
The coastguard has promised that the giant floating cranes to be used in the salvage operation will only be brought in once all the bodies trapped in the submerged ship have been retrieved.

But with some bodies being recovered several kilometres (miles) away from the disaster site over the past week, it is unclear just how many remain trapped.-AFP

Japan makes first arrest over 3-D printer guns

Posted: 07 May 2014 10:16 PM PDT

TOKYO: A Japanese man suspected of possessing guns made with a 3-D printer has been arrested, reports said Thursday, in what was said to be the country's first such detention.

Officers who raided the home of Yoshitomo Imura, a 27-year-old college employee, confiscated five weapons, two of which had the potential to fire lethal bullets, broadcaster NHK said.

They also recovered a 3-D printer from the home in Kawasaki, near Tokyo, but did not find any ammunition for the guns, Jiji Press reported.

It is the first time Japan's firearm control law has been applied to the possession of guns produced by 3-D printers, Jiji reported.

The police investigation began after the suspect allegedly posted video footage on the Internet showing him shooting the guns, the Mainichi Shimbun said on its website.

Officers suspect that he downloaded blueprints for making the guns with 3-D printers from websites hosted overseas, the newspaper said.

The daily said the suspect largely admitted the allegations, saying: "It is true that I made them, but I did not think it was illegal."

The police refused to confirm the reports, although broadcasters showed footage of Imura being taken in for questioning.

The rapid development of 3-D printing technology, which allows relatively cheap machines to construct complex physical objects by building up layers of polymer, has proved a challenge for legislators around the world.

Weapons assembled from parts produced by the printers are not detectable with regular security equipment, like that found at airports, leading to fears that they may be used in hijackings.

The debate about home-made guns took off last year in the United States when a Texas-based group, Defense Distributed, posted blueprints for a fully functional, 3-D-printed firearm, a single-shot pistol made almost entirely out of hard polymer plastic.

In December the US Congress renewed a ban on guns that contain no metal.

While Japanese police are armed, Japan has very strict firearms control laws and few people possess guns or have ever come into contact with them. -AFP


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