SINGAPORE (Reuters) - A Singapore court ordered a Swiss man caned and jailed for five months on Friday for spray-painting graffiti on suburban train carriages, reinforcing the city-state’s low tolerance for even minor crimes.
Oliver Fricker, 32, was sentenced to the minimum three strokes from a rattan cane and five months in prison after he pleaded guilty to breaking into a Singapore train depot last month and spray-painting graphics and the words “McKoy Banos” across two carriages.
He was accompanied at the time by with a man identified as Lloyd Dane Alexander, a Briton, who was in Singapore for just three days, according to the prosecution.
Singapore has sought the extradition of Alexander, who it said was last believed to be in Hong Kong.
McKoy Banos are the signatures of a duo who enjoy celebrity status in the shadowy world of graffiti artists. It was not immediately known if Fricker, an IT consultant who has been working in Singapore since 2008, and Alexander were indeed the duo or imitators.
“This was calculated criminal conduct, he was fully conscious of the criminal nature of the act and must be prepared to face the consequences,” said Judge See Kee Oon.
Fricker, who was unaccompanied by any family or friends, listened to the verdict without emotion and was taken away to serve his term. His lawyer Derek Kang said he would appeal.
Singapore does not publicize the dates when convicts are caned.
Singapore outlaws chewing gum and has strict fines for littering and a mandatory death sentence for drug peddling. The crime rate on the sparklingly clean island nation of 5 million people is among the lowest in the world.
Singapore’s vandalism laws became global news in 1994 when American teenager Michael Fay was caned for damaging cars and public property, despite appeals for clemency from the United States government, including then President Bill Clinton.
It was not immediately known how Fricker was identified, but the court was told it cost SMRT S$11,000 ($7,900) to clean up the two affected carriages.
Some commentators in Singapore have expressed concern over how easily Fricker and Alexander broke into the tightly guarded train depot near Changi Airport and left a hole in the fence that went unnoticed for days.
Writing by Raju Gopalakrishnan; Editing by Nick Macfie