Suspected Standard Chartered Bank (StanChart) robber David Roach should not go scot-free and instead should be brought back to Singapore to face trial even if he is not caned, said Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam on Thursday (22 February).
His comments on the sidelines of a visit to the Police Cantonment Complex come after the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said on Tuesday that the Singapore government had acceded to the United Kingdom’s request not to cane Roach if he were found guilty of robbery, as part of the extradition proceedings between the two countries. Roach is reportedly contesting extradition from the UK.
Roach, a 28-year-old Canadian, was detained by British authorities in January at Singapore’s request, after he was deported by Thai authorities from Bangkok. He was apparently en route to Canada via the UK when he was detained at London’s Heathrow Airport.
Shanmugam told reporters that while Singapore opted to give the undertaking not to cane Roach, “he will come back to face all the other punishments if he is convicted”. Having Roach brought back to face a trial was the “better option” for Singapore, Shanmugam added.
He was responding to a question from a reporter who said some Singaporeans had perceived that it was unfair that Roach would not be caned if he were found guilty of robbery by a Singapore court.
Shanmugam explained the conditions of the extradition arrangements within Commonwealth countries, which Singapore and the United Kingdom are part of. He said, “In the UK, there’s no corporal punishment so they will not extradite to a country which has corporate punishment.”
Similar extradition arrangements have also applied to other previous cases that involved possible capital punishment.
“Likewise in the past, there have been cases where the extraditing country does not have the death penalty and therefore will not extradite unless the requesting country gives an undertaking not to impose the death penalty,” Shanmugam said.
On 7 July 2016, Roach went to the StanChart branch in Holland Village, where he allegedly made off with $30,000 after handing over a note to a bank teller. No weapon was used during the robbery.
The Canadian subsequently fled to Bangkok, where he was detained three days later. He reportedly denied any involvement in the robbery. There is no extradition treaty between Singapore and Thailand. Thai authorities have also rejected requests from Singapore to extradite him.
Roach served 14 months’ jail in Thailand for failing to declare a large amount of money when entering the country.