Man originally tried for murder gets jail and caning for slashing cigarette syndicate leader who bled to death
SINGAPORE: A man originally tried for murder over the death of an illegal cigarette syndicate leader was sentenced on Monday (Jul 20) to 15 years' jail and 15 strokes of the cane for a lesser charge of causing grievous hurt.
Bangladeshi Miya Manik, 31, was found guilty of voluntarily causing grievous hurt by means of a chopper, by slashing the victim and causing his death in September 2016.
He had attacked Munshi Abdur Rahim, the leader of a rival syndicate vying for control of a field near a foreign worker dormitory where they plied their illegal goods, with two other men known only as Aziz and Mitho.
The victim had been knifed multiple times in a clash between the two syndicates, but the wound that caused his death was a fatal injury to his leg.
However, footage of the incident was of low quality, with dark scenes and obscured views that did not show the important details.
The judge had cleared Miya of murder as she found it unsafe to convict him of the capital charge, as there was reasonable doubt in both cases put forth by the prosecution.
Both defence and prosecution did not ask for life imprisonment, which was a possible term for the new offence.
Instead, the prosecution asked for the maximum 15 years' jail and 14 strokes of the cane, while defence lawyer Chooi Jing Yen asked for 10 years' jail and 10 strokes.
Justice Valerie Thean disagreed with the defence's arguments that Manik was genuinely remorseful and had cooperated with investigations.
HE WOULD HAVE PLEADED GUILTY: DEFENCE
Mr Chooi said that Manik has "never denied being involved in the confrontation or using a weapon", disputing only the type of weapon he used and the parts of the victim's body he aimed at.
He said that if the prosecution had started out with the lesser charge, Manik would have pleaded guilty.
Mr Chooi also said that there was an "inordinate delay in prosecution", with the trial commencing about three-and-a-half years after Manik was charged.
He urged the court to take this into consideration, "especially in light of the fact that the charges that were hanging over Manik’s head were capital charges".
The victim was not "particularly vulnerable" but a member of an opposing syndicate who also showed up with the intention of engaging in a physical confrontation, said Mr Chooi.
His client had come to Singapore to make a better life for himself and his family, hoping to remit money back from his job in construction, but "did not expect that he would eventually find himself involved in the black markets run by illegal cigarette-sale syndicates, which are rife in migrant-worker communities".
His family has been having trouble keeping up with Manik's nine-year-old daughter's school fees and expenses, and his wife had to take up work in a rice paddy field to make ends meet, said the lawyer.
GROUP VIOLENCE WAS PROFIT-DRIVEN: PROSECUTION
Deputy Public Prosecutors Kumaresan Gohulabalan and Andre Chong stressed that the foremost aggravating factor was that the clash was profit-driven.
The case involves "group violence that spiralled uncontrollably", with the territorial dispute coming to "a bloody end" when Manik tried to wrest back control of the field, which was "the jewel in the crown for contraband cigarette sales".
Along with accomplices Mitho and Aziz, Manik armed himself with a chopper, chased after the victim and "ferociously hacked" at him, said the prosecutors.
The victim sustained 22 injuries on his body, was "left for dead" and bled to death, said Mr Chong.
The attack was in a crowded public area, near Tuas View Dormitory where other workers stayed, and they would have feared harm, watching the "simmering tension that escalated to a boil", he said.
Justice Thean agreed that there were several aggravating factors in the case, including the planning and premeditation, the group violence present and the profit motive.
She agreed with the prosecution that choppers are among the most dangerous types of weapons, capable of cutting through bone, muscle and arteries as shown in this case.
The attack itself was "vicious and terrifying", said the judge, noting that the victim was unarmed and no other member of his syndicate came to help him during the attack, during which he had fallen on the floor.
On the defence's argument of the delay in prosecution, the judge said it would be sufficient to backdate the sentence to the day Manik was remanded.
She allowed Manik some time to speak to his friends, who had come to court to watch proceedings.