SINGAPORE: The trial of a Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) officer accused of assaulting a suspect to extort a drug confession from him opened on Monday (Nov 23).
Vengedesh Raj Nainar Nagarajan, who has since been suspended, is contesting three charges of voluntarily causing hurt to Sivabalan Kanniappan in 2017 to extort a confession from him.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Han Ming Kuang said Sivabalan was arrested in the early hours of Jan 2, 2017 for drug importation at Woodlands Checkpoint.
The 34-year-old Malaysian man was detained at the checkpoint after an officer discovered drugs concealed in a raincoat on Sivabalan's motorcycle.
Sivabalan cooperated and did not put up a struggle, and was handed over to the Woodlands CNB team. Vengedesh was part of an additional support team that was activated at about 5am that day, the court heard.
"New Year's Day fell on a Sunday, so the second of January was also a public holiday," said Mr Han.
Vengedesh, now 33, was a narcotics officer with CNB holding the rank of corporal at the time.
"When the accused arrived at Woodlands Checkpoint just before 6am, Sivabalan had not admitted to the offence," sad Mr Han.
"The prosecution will show that the accused brought Sivabalan to the toilet on three separate occasions. On each of the occasions, acting on his own accord, in violation of CNB protocols and the law, the accused assaulted Sivabalan for the purpose of extorting from him a confession in relation to the drug offence."
According to charge sheets, Vengedesh kicked, punched and slapped Sivabalan in the toilet at the Woodlands Checkpoint CNB office between 5.58am and 9.30am.
The prosecution intends to call a total of 18 witnesses including CNB and police officers. They will also tender closed-circuit television footage and statements from Vengedesh.
CNB investigated the incident after Sivabalan made allegations of assault, and suspended Vengedesh from October 2019.
Sivabalan was later convicted of a drug offence and is currently serving a 15-year jail term. He was also given caning.
Vengedesh is defended by lawyer Peter Fernando. He faces other charges that have been set aside for the time being, including for cursing at the police.
If convicted of voluntarily causing hurt to extort a confession, he could be jailed for up to seven years and fined or caned.