Germans caught for vandalism: We've learnt our lesson

2015-03-05 21:05
Andreas Von Knorre, one of the two German nationals arrested in Singapore for vandalism, arrives in a police car to the state court. (Roslan Rahman, AFP)

Andreas Von Knorre, one of the two German nationals arrested in Singapore for vandalism, arrives in a police car to the state court. (Roslan Rahman, AFP)

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Singapore - A Singapore court sentenced two Germans to nine months in prison and three strokes of the cane on Thursday after they pleaded guilty to breaking into a depot and spray-painting graffiti on a commuter train carriage.

Andreas Von Knorre, aged 22, and Elton Hinz, aged 21, both expressed remorse while being sentenced in the state courts of the island republic.

"This is the darkest episode of my entire life," said Von Knorre. "I want to apologise to the state of Singapore for the stupid act. I've learned my lesson and will never do it again."

Hinz added: "I promise I will never do it again. I want to apologise to you, and my family for the shame and situation I've put them into."

Both were dressed in prison uniform - a white T-shirt and brown trousers with the word "Prisoner" down the sides and on the back. They spoke to the court in English.

Singapore sentences hundreds of prisoners to caning each year as part of a system that has been criticised by rights groups. Vandalism and over-staying by foreigners are offences that can be punished by caning along with other crimes like kidnapping, robbery, drug abuse and sexual abuse.

According to the US State Department, 2 203 caning sentences were carried out in 2012, including 1 070 foreigners caned for committing immigration offences.

Elton Hinz

A police official sits next to Elton Hinz, one of the two German nationals arrested in Singapore for vandalism, as they arrive in a police car to the state court. (Roslan Rahman, AFP)

"The Singapore judicial system's shameful recourse to using torture - in the form of caning - to punish crimes that should be misdemeanours is indicative of a blatant disregard for international human rights standards," said Phil Robertson, deputy director of the Asia division of Human Rights Watch.

"One of the defendants said that sentencing day was the darkest day of his life, but in reality every day that Singapore keeps caning on its books is a dark day for the country's international reputation," he said in an e-mail.

In Berlin, a foreign ministry official said the government respected the sovereignty of Singapore.

"But it speaks out against corporal punishment as a form of sentence worldwide - and that also means in Singapore," the official added. "The German government has made that clear."

Read more on:    hrw  |  singapore  |  germany  |  human rights

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