Reactions were split to the news a 23-year-old murder suspect who became an online sensation would face lesser charges.
While fans of internet-infamous Natalie Siow Yu Zhen are celebrating the news that her murder charge has been reduced to assault, critics felt she was getting off easy for her alleged role in an assault that led to a man’s death in July.
“What are you going to do with your life? Next time, circumstances may not be so lucky for you,” a James Toh wrote on Facebook.
The reduced charge means she won’t face the death penalty.
Wanie Malik took on her fans, saying “people who say they cannot bear seeing pretty girls getting death sentence, you guys are mental. A crime is still a crime, regardless of who did it.”
The murder rap was downgraded to assault on Friday, over three months after the fatal, July 2 brawl at Orchard Towers, multiple outlets reported. She was among seven suspects charged in the death of 31-year-old Satheesh Noel Gobidasson.
“She is looking forward to going home to her family and will cooperate with the authorities as advised by me. I am grateful that the prosecution acceded to my representation,” her lawyer, Amarick Gill, told The Straits Times.
Still others were more circumspect and hoped Siow, who had garnered an online fan club, would grow from the experience.
“Hopefully after this, she will learn her lesson and do well in everything and values that she is given a second [chance] at life,” Kenny Koh said on Facebook.
Siow was apparently surprised by the unexpected turn of events as she reportedly burst into tears upon hearing the news.
The amended charge now alleges that she punched and kicked Satheesh on the ground floor of Orchard Towers. If found guilty, she could be jailed up to two years and fined S$5,000 (US$3,700).
Siow walked out of the State Courts Friday evening with her father and a family friend after being freed on a S$15,000 bond, TODAY news reported. Her next court hearing has been set for Friday.
Security footage that made its way online before being deleted showed the violent attack that resulted in Satheesh’s death after he was taken to Tan Tock Seng Hospital.
Others originally charged with murder were Tan Hong Sheng, Loo Boon Chong, Tan Sen Yang, Joel Tan Yun Sheng, Chan Jia Xing, and And Da Yuan. All suspects were between 22 and 28.
Tan Sen Yang, Joel Tan, Ang Da Yuan still face counts of murder. An eighth suspect remains under investigation.
On July 11, charges against Tan Hong Sheng, Loo and Chan were reduced to consorting with Tan Sen Yang, who was allegedly carrying a curved kerambit knife that was used to attack Satheesh.
Loo and Chan are out on bail. Tan Hong Seng was also freed but has since been returned to custody after he missed a court appearance last month, TODAY reported. His mother reported him to the police, who then arrested him Aug. 9 outside a nightclub in Clarke Quay, where he was involved in another fight.
Update: A quote published earlier in this story was removed for legal reasons.
This article, Orchard Towers Murder: Singapore debates Natalie Siow’s escape from possible death penalty, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!