SCDF ragging trial: Warrant officer found guilty of asking staff sergeant to push NSF into well
SINGAPORE: A Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) warrant officer had asked a colleague to push a full-time national serviceman into a well, a court found on Thursday (Oct 31).
First Warrant Officer Mohamed Farid Mohd Saleh, 36, was found guilty of abetting Staff Sergeant Muhammad Nur Fatwa Mahmood by instigating him into committing a rash act that caused the death of 22-year-old Kok Yuen Chin.
District Judge Victor Yeo found that Farid had told Fatwa to push Corporal Kok into a 12m-deep pump well on the night of May 13, 2018, at Tuas View Fire Station.
READ: 'Faster go down': SCDF officer who found NSF Kok Yuen Chin's body at bottom of well recalls rescue attempt
The judge found that the prosecution's key and material witness Fatwa was a credible witness, with consistent testimony, "even under intense cross-examination" by the defence counsel.
"Having had the benefit of observing Fatwa give his evidence, I do find Fatwa to be a credible witness and I find his testimony containing a ring of truth," said the judge.
He pointed out that Fatwa had "candidly admitted" to his involvement in the incident, and had pleaded guilty to the charges he faced.
On the day of the incident, he admitted both to the fire station commander and police that he had pushed CPL Kok, and that Farid had told him to do so.
Farid had claimed trial to the single charge, claiming in his defence that Fatwa was lying when he said the warrant officer told him in Malay "Wa tolak dia", meaning "push him, Wa", referring to Fatwa by his nickname.
Fatwa has served his sentence of a year and four weeks for causing CPL Kok's death and abetting the obstruction of justice.
Farid, who is represented by lawyer Chhabra Vinit, testified during the trial that he was disappointed by Fatwa's "lie" and suggested that he did so to "implicate everybody".
"In my view there is no reason for Fatwa to falsely implicate Farid," said Judge Yeo.
"The defence sought to establish that Fatwa did not want to face the charge alone, or to shoulder the responsibility of what had happened. Whilst there may be some merit to this argument, upon careful consideration and further reflection I did not think that this witness Fatwa would go to the extent to fabricate the allegation against his good friend and colleague."
He said he was "persuaded by Fatwa’s honest answer that there is no reason for him to lie about this and that he spoke the truth only because he wanted those who were responsible to also take responsibility as he himself had done".
Farid, on the other hand, did not come across as a credible witness, said the judge.
"I was not impressed by his attempts to downplay his involvement in the whole episode," he added. "I did not accept the accused’s explanations and his defence and I disbelieve his denial."
CPL Kok's father, who has attended several hearings in relation to his son's death, listened to the verdict from the public gallery with a grim expression.
Parties are to return to court for sentencing and mitigation on Nov 20.
Of the five officers charged over the incident, two have served their sentences, including Fatwa and Staff Sergeant Adighazali Suhaimi, who was jailed for one month in December for deleting incriminating evidence.
The trial for Farid's superiors, rota commanders First Senior Warrant Officer Nazhan Mohamed Nazi and Lieutenant Chong Chee Boon Kenneth, is ongoing.
The penalties for abetting a rash act not amounting to culpable homicide are a jail term of up to five years, a fine, or both.