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Little India riot: At least 70 witnesses to be called up for COI hearing

The Committee of Inquiry (COI) on the Little India riot intends to call at least 70 witnesses for a public hearing which will start on February 19 at the Subordinate Courts.

SINGAPORE: The public hearing for the Committee of Inquiry (COI) on the December 8 Little India riot will start on February 19 at 10 am at the Subordinate Courts, said the Home Affairs Ministry in a statement on Friday.

The Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) will be leading the evidence at the hearing, which is expected to span at least four weeks.

Appointed investigators from the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) have interviewed close to 300 witnesses, and the bureau intends to call at least 70 of them to give oral evidence at the public hearing.

The COI Secretariat said the team from CNB was appointed, as CNB is a neutral party to the incident and the investigators have the expertise and experience to aid in investigation matters pertaining to the COI.

Some of the key eyewitnesses include the bus driver and the timekeeper of the bus involved in the fatal accident.

The COI had earlier invited 57 foreign workers who were repatriated to be interviewed on a voluntary basis before departing Singapore.

Of these, 20 had stepped forward to be interviewed.

At the hearing, the COI will also call a number of foreign workers who have been issued police advisories, to give evidence.

The COI Secretariat has also received 22 emails and letters from various persons and non-governmental organisations interested in the proceedings.

It will take these submissions into consideration for the purposes of the inquiry, based on the Terms of Reference of the COI.

The committee also said it has visited the scene of the riot.

It has also spoken to foreign workers including those in dormitories in Tagore Lane, Avery Lodge and Penjuru Dormitory to get their views on matters relating to the riot, including the living conditions of foreign workers in Singapore.

The first week of the hearing will focus on establishing how the riot unfolded and how the response forces managed the incident.

Upon conclusion of the public hearing, the COI will consider the evidence presented and submit a report of its proceedings, findings and recommendations to the Home Affairs Minister Teo Chee Hean, who is the appointing authority of the COI. 

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