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Trial of man accused of obstructing policeman in Little India riot to continue

The first man who claimed trial over his alleged role in the Little India riot last December has failed in his bid to have his case thrown out of court. 

SINGAPORE: The first man who claimed trial over his alleged role in the Little India riot last December has failed in his bid to have his case thrown out of court.

Mahalingam Thavamani is accused of obstructing Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) N Subramaniam from dispersing the crowd near the scene of the riot.

At the close of his four-day trial in April, the 27-year-old Indian national's lawyers had made a "no case to answer" submission.

One of the prosecution's witnesses, Inspector Chris Lee, had also testified that there was no evidence to show the construction worker had used any force that prevented DSP Subramaniam from discharging his duties.

Inspector Lee is the senior investigating officer in charge of Thavamani's case.

In its submissions to the court, the prosecution argued that obstruction need not be of a physical nature. It added that "obstruction is made out if the officer is frustrated in his attempt to perform his duty".

The prosecution said Thavamani did not comply with DSP Subramaniam's order to leave the vicinity.

The non-compliance, which the prosecution said lasted for about 10 minutes, "did, in fact, frustrate DSP Subramaniam in his attempt to perform his duty".

The prosecution also produced a witness -- Damodran, a friend of Thavamani -- who told the court he had tried to pull Thavamani out of Belilios Road.

Damodran said Thavamani refused to leave, after telling a police officer that his "younger brother was missing".

But District Judge Salina Ishak on Monday ruled that Thavamani has a case to answer. She said there is "some evidence not inherently incredible that satisfy each element of the charge".

His trial is set to continue on May 19.

If found guilty, he faces a maximum penalty of eight years' jail and a fine.

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