The police officer who handled the Suntec City brawl incident in 2010 has been charged with neglect of duty.
Second Minister for Home Affairs, and Trade and Industry S Iswaran said the Singapore Police Force (SPF) has completed its internal inquiry, and charged the investigation officer who handled the case with negligence. A letter of warning has also been issued to his supervisor, S Iswaran informed the House during Tuesday's Parliament.
“I would also point out that the lapse was due to the error of an individual rather than to any systematic shortcomings,” S Iswaran said, answering Member of Parliament (MP) Tin Pei Ling’s question for an update on the police inquiry.
This is after two of the three expatriates -- options brokers New Zealander Robert Stephen Dahlberg and Briton Robert James Springall – absconded while on bail after they were charged with assault in July 2010. A third man, Australian business development manager Nathan Robert Miller, 35, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three weeks’ jail in February this year.
The trio were allegedly drunk when they attacked two taxi drivers and two taxi passengers and hijacked and crashed a taxi in April 2010, reported AsiaOne. Dahlberg allegedly caused hurt to businessman Laurence Wong Seong and shoved Paul Louis Liew Kai Ming against a pillar, who sustained a forehead gash and a broken nose. Miller had also allegedly punched cabby Tay Gek Heng in the face during the incident.
While Miller served time, his friends Dahlberg, 34, and Springall, 25, were allowed to leave Singapore after they were charged.
Dahlberg was out on bail for S$25,000 last July when he went on trips to London and Hong Kong and did not return. Springall, travelled back to the United Kingdom between August and September on a bail of $12,000. After returning from his trip, Springall failed to surrender his passport to the authorities and flew out of Singapore in December 2011 and absconded.
Both men jumped bail and warrants of arrest have been issued to the police’s overseas counterparts and the Interpol.
In light of the incident, MP David Ong asked during Parliament whether the Penal Code and other criminal legislation are sufficiently adequate to protect Singaporeans from offences and crimes committed by foreigners against them.
In response, S Iswaran said that all accused persons and victims are treated equally under Singapore law, whether they are Singaporeans or foreigners.
“When setting bail conditions, the police and the courts take a variety of factors into account to assess the flight risk of the accused. These include the gravity of the offence, the extent of the accused person’s roots in Singapore and whether the person have attempted to abscond previously,” S Iswaran said.
Iswaran also explained that when a person absconds, the bail is forfeited and the police will arrest the wanted person if he is still in Singapore. In the event that the accused person flees overseas, the police may issue an Interpol Red Notice.
Police forces in the Interpol member states will then help to locate and arrest the accused person and may extradite the person back to Singapore.
Tin also asked if further the impounding of passports should be made a standard operating procedure in cases as it "would ensure that when the courts need them or when judgment is made, they are in Singapore to receive the judgment".
Responding to Tin, Iswaran said, "This is really a decision that we should leave to the courts and not make it mandatory, because there are so many considerations here. The nature of the crime, the gravity of the impact, the nature of the individuals' own ties to Singapore."
"And I think most importantly and fundamentally, we have to strike that balance between his or her right to freedom to move before he or she is judged or found to be guilty," he added.