SINGAPORE — Two Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) officers accused of being involved in a fatal ragging incident claimed trial to their charges at the State Courts on Monday (10 June).
First Senior Warrant Officer Nazhan Mohamed Nazi, 41, and Lieutenant Kenneth Chong Chee Boon, 38, were the respective deputy commander and commander in charge of the servicemen who pushed 22-year-old Corporal Kok Yuen Chin into a pump well at the Tuas View Fire Station on 13 May last year.
Kok, who could not swim, drowned in the 12m-deep well. Nazhan and Chong now face one charge each of helping the group cause grievous hurt to Kok through a rash act, by failing to prevent the group from making Kok enter the well.
Of the five men who were charged in July last year in relation to the incident, two have pleaded guilty to their charges. Staff Sergeant Adighazali Suhaimi, 33, who deleted a video recording of Kok being pushed into the pump well, was sentenced to one month’s jail in December last year.
Staff Sergeant Muhammad Nur Fatwa Mahmood, 34, who helped carry Kok to the well and pushed him in was jailed 12 months and four weeks in October last year. He had also instructed Adighazali to delete the footage of the incident.
Warrant Officer 1 Mohamed Farid Mohamed Saleh, 34, who was charged with instigating Fatwa by telling him to push Kok into the well, has not been dealt with.
‘I was thinking of just scaring him’: witness
On Monday, Staff Sergeant Al-Khudaifi Chang, a hazardous materials officer, testified that he was part of a group that carried Kok to the pump well.
The group had bought a cake for Kok to celebrate his Operationally Ready Date (ORD), which was due three days after the incident. The celebration took place at about 8.50pm at the station’s control room, where a plaque of appreciation was also presented to Kok.
While there, Fatwa asked Kok if he was ready to enter the well. As Kok exited the room, a group of men carried him and set him outside of the pump well.
“In my head I was thinking of just scaring him... and not throwing him in pump well. We were going to carry him and place him outside the pump well,” said Al-Khudaifi.
“(We) thought that Kok would eventually enter the pump well (on his own)… or he would slip backwards into pump well accidentally.”
Chang testified that he was aware that Kok could not swim as the two had discussed the matter before. He added that before Kok entered the well, someone else had asked if he could swim, to which Kok replied that he could not.
Fatwa then chimed in to assure Kok that another colleague, a swimming instructor, was present, said Al-Khudaifi.
According to Al-Khudaifi, as Kok was being carried out from the control room, Nazhan walked alongside the group to the pump well, but left for his office after 10 minutes.
While Kok was on the ledge of the well, Chong stuck his head out of a control room window to tell the group not to record any videos. The group responded by raising their hands, said Chang.
Several CCTV videos that showed Kok being carried to the pump well and the moment he was pushed into it, were also played in court.
Mobile phone footage of the incident, recovered from Adighazali’s phone, showed Kok sitting on the well’s ledge and smiling. His colleagues egg him on before he is pushed into the well.
The trial is scheduled to run until 21 June, with the prosecution set to call 30 witnesses.