Swiss, Oliver Fricker is Sentenced in Singapore: I Feel Overwhelming Sadness at the Verdict

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fahN1LJfgW0]

The jail term I can understand, even though it’s harsh as there was no malice in the act, but why the caning (seems more like flogging) as well? In my mind, the punishment doesn’t fit the crime. I am also disappointed as I hoped the laws might have been modified as a result. Set a new precedence, make us more progressive, but alas no. And it’s not just Oliver I feel sorry for, but anyone who faces a punishment that is too harsh for what they committed, as I ask myself where is the rehabilitation factor? I worry about the mental suffering this will cause him and others who will be mentally and physically scarred for life. I just feel really sad and fearful for him and hope against hope that his appeal will work.  For anyone who says he deserves it, I say where is our compassion people?


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Channel News Asia reports:

The court was told Lloyd allegedly masterminded the plan, and had corresponded with a spray paint supplier before his arrival in Singapore on May 15.

The next day, the pair looked for a dimly-lit area of fence surrounding the depot and cut a hole in it. They then painted the two carriages nearest to the fence.

Fricker had allegedly been “extremely nervous” when entering the depot, and needed to be coaxed by Lloyd.

They fled in a taxi and went to Boat Quay for drinks, before ending up at Fricker’s apartment at Sail@Marina Bay.

Lloyd showed Fricker the photographs he’d taken, before they went to sleep.

On May 18, the pair left for Hong Kong for a holiday.

The court also heard that Fricker was an experienced graffiti artiste. He had painted graffiti – legally – at Singapore’s Youth Park before.

The case saw hours of mitigation and repeated delays in court.

Fricker’s lawyer Derek Kang said his client had made a one-off mistake, while under the influence of alcohol.

He added the graffiti had not incited hatred, and left no lasting damage.

But the prosecution said Fricker’s sentence should act as a general deterrent for the public.

Fricker’s lawyer said his client had shown genuine remorse by cooperating fully with police.

“My client has commenced serving his sentence. We are filing an appeal because we feel that it is on the high side. We hope that the papers can be expedited, and we will see how things go at the appeal,” said Lawyer Kang.

Singapore sentences Swiss to caning for graffiti
By ALEX KENNEDY Associated Press Writer © 2010 The Associated Press
June 25, 2010, 8:34AM

Oliver Fricker of Switzerland, right, arrives with his lawyer Derek Kang, left, at the subordinate courts for a court hearing on Friday June 25, 2010 in Singapore. Fricker was charged with trespassing and vandalism of a local subway train after allegedly breaking into one of the depots and drawing graffiti on a train last month. If found guilty he faces caning and fines.

SINGAPORE — Singapore sentenced a Swiss man to three strokes of a cane and five months in prison Friday for spray-painting graffiti on a subway car, reinforcing the city-state’s reputation for severely punishing minor crimes.
Oliver Fricker, 32, pleaded guilty earlier in the day to one count each of vandalism and trespassing for breaking into a train depot with an accomplice and drawing graffiti on two subway carriages on May 16.
Fricker’s lawyer, Derek Kang, said his client would appeal the punishment.
“He feels the sentence is too high, and so do I,” Kang told reporters.
Fricker, who had been free on bail of 100,000 Singapore dollars ($72,000), was immediately taken into custody by court police. The information technology consultant didn’t speak to the media. He was silent and motionless throughout the hearing, but sighed heavily as he was led away.
“The offenses were planned and carefully executed,” said Senior District Judge See Kee Oon. “These were not impulsive displays of youthful bravado.”
Vandalism in Singapore carries a mandatory three to eight strokes of a cane and a fine of up to SG$2,000 Singapore dollars ($1,437) or up to three years in jail.
Singapore boasts one of the lowest violent crime rates and highest standards of living in the world, but human rights groups often criticize the government for excessive punishments such as hanging drug couriers. Singapore also reiterated a ban on the sale of chewing gum this year and announced a crackdown on littering last month.
Singapore caned American teenager Michael Fay for vandalism in 1994 — ignoring pleas for leniency by then-President Bill Clinton — in a case that drew international attention to the country’s harsh punishments.
Fay, who was 18 at the time, was sentenced to six cane strokes and four months in jail.
The Swiss Embassy in Singapore is in contact with Fricker’s family, said spokeswoman Sandra Chawla-Gantenbein.
“All Swiss nationals living in Singapore must expect to comply with the law,” Chawla-Gantenbein said after the sentencing. “Corporal punishment is not part of the Swiss legal system.”
Prosecutors said Fricker, who has worked in Singapore since 2008, committed the crimes with Lloyd Dane Alexander, a British national based in Hong Kong. Police issued an arrest warrant for Alexander, 29, earlier this month, and prosecutors said he fled last month to Hong Kong.
Fricker and Alexander cut through a security fence and caused about SG$11,000 ($7,900) of damage by painting “McKoy Banos” on a train car, prosecutors said. Kang said Fricker agreed to pay all damages.
The “McKoy Banos” slogan has appeared on graffiti found throughout the world. Fricker’s lawyer said his client had copied the name after seeing it elsewhere.
Fricker and Alexander first met in Australia in 1997 and during his time in Singapore, Fricker spray-painted at one of Singapore’s government-sanctioned graffiti walls, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors didn’t specify how Fricker was identified, saying only their evidence came from police investigations.
Kang argued during the sentencing hearing that Fricker was by persuaded by Alexander to commit the crimes “while inebriated” after consuming “several beers.”
“It was committed for fun, not malice,” Kang said. “It was purely graphic art.”
Prosecutors pointed out Fricker admitted to bringing the wire cutter used to breach the fence and joined Alexander in scouting the location earlier in the day.
Fricker and Alexander were involved in “graffiti tourism” as part of a group of international underground artists who travel the world seeking new places to tag, said prosecutor Sharon Lim.
“The defendant acted brazenly to add Singapore to his trophies,” Lim said. “This is not a mere prank.”
Singapore’s subway operator, SMRT Corp., didn’t report the incident to police for two days because staff thought the brightly colored graffiti was an advertisement.

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15 Responses to Swiss, Oliver Fricker is Sentenced in Singapore: I Feel Overwhelming Sadness at the Verdict

  1. 365days2play says:

    Poor guy. Lots of people often get away with stupidity, but not this time. I can only assume that he was acting in a moment of stupidity because if anyone knew the possible penalties, they wouldn’t have done it. I don’t want to comment about the flogging, but I think that 5 months for trespassing a high security area is actually quite light. They must have taken into account that Oliver didn’t do it out of malice.

    • bookjunkie says:

      I am also quite convinced he didn’t know how much trouble he would be getting into or how harsh the laws for vandalism are. Probably in other countries in would just be a fine and a few weeks jail I imagine.

  2. caretakerdc says:

    Sadly he is charged with a breech of security. But imagine, two men with no special training and no ill intent were able to have unrestricted to one of the heartbeats of Singapore. What if they were terrorists and planted timed charges to go off around the island at a given time.

    The results would have been disastrous yet easily accomplished. Singapore owes a debt of gratitude to these two young men for exposing such a horrendous lapse in National Security. Thank God they were only Artists!

  3. 365days2play says:

    It seems that nothing much has been said about why the breach occurred or how they intend to make sure all our impt places are secure.

    I think back about the Berlin Wall and how people still managed to escape to the other side despite barb wire, fierce dogs, watch towers with soldier and rifles. Nothing is 100% safe if someone is out to get us.

    • bookjunkie says:

      I really want to hear about that too….all the new measures in place…and I hope to see evidence of it at the MRT Stations

      • caretakerdc says:

        It’s not like SMRT’s done nothing to enhance security. They removed all the litter bins so terrorists wouldn’t leave an unwanted surprise.

  4. Kirsten says:

    Fricker and Alexander were involved in “graffiti tourism” as part of a group of international underground artists who travel the world seeking new places to tag, said prosecutor Sharon Lim.
    “The defendant acted brazenly to add Singapore to his trophies,” Lim said. “This is not a mere prank.”

    ——

    To be honest, Singapore needs to Get Over It.

    Sure “graffiti tourism” might not be sanctioned or pre-planned by the authorities, but that is part of the whole deal. It is part of the subculture of street art, and part of the discourse in urban theory and expression. It is the “mess” that comes with artistic expression and creativity. It is the sort of thing that you have to put up with and deal with once in awhile if you want to become a centre of artistic activity, which Singapore obviously wants to be (as can be seen by how we market ourselves at the World Expo – all artsy-fartsy).

    • bookjunkie says:

      such an irony…us trying to be arty and all. so utterly sanitized – that’s not how real art thrives.

      • Kirsten says:

        It’s stupid to encourage graffiti, but only in “selected areas”. Part of the whole idea of graffiti is of it appearing in unexpected places. The whole thing about street art is that it is anti-establishment, that it is against the norm and an expression of freedom. It’s like hippy culture in the 60s, the fact that they were not part of the establishment was pretty much THE POINT.

        Art is mess, difference and – dare I say it – disruption. You can’t have Tidy, Establishment Art, because then that’s just propaganda.

  5. 365days2play says:

    Hmmm….am I the only one out there who prefers the walls to be clear of graffiti?

    • bookjunkie says:

      don’t like graffiti that’s filled with swear words etc. but I do like the artistic ones.

      • Kirsten says:

        It is the difference between graffiti and tagging. Tagging is just offensive, without any real artistic merit, whereas graffiti can be a real work of art.

        Unfortunately, if you have street art you are bound to get tagging from stupid teenagers who have nothing better to do. But then again, that will be the “messy, disruptive” part of art.

        It then comes down to a choice: is street art and the artistic freedom it encapsulates worth the instances of tagging that need to be cleaned off/painted over?

      • bookjunkie says:

        I could live with it 🙂 in the name of art

  6. butterflye2020 says:

    Singapore proves once again what a Third world country it is, and a First world wanna be. Singapore is changing – I read it, I see it, I feel it, and it, just as the rest of the world, knows that this sentence of beating is just wrong. If this man was a terrorist in some capacity would he also be sentenced to be flogged? Why is it that Singapore takes 3 steps forward and 10 steps backward. The exposure of this and the severe penaltys for a non violent and non malicious act brings shame to this country, and it has the people in Singapore, and in the rest of the free world, asking “Is Singapore no better than the Taliban?”

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