Singapore judge punished for caning sentence error

18 Jul 07

A Singapore judge has been punished for mistakenly sentencing a prisoner to an extra three strokes of the cane, the Singapore government said on Tuesday.

As a result of the error, Dickson Tan – who was found guilty of helping an illegal moneylender and also sentenced to nine months in prison – was caned eight times instead of five, Singapore’s Law Minister, S. Jayakumar, was quoted as saying on the Law Ministry Web site.

Caning is a judicial practice in Singapore and is meted out for offences ranging from vandalism to illegal possession of drugs.

Offenders are strapped to an A-shaped wooden frame and lashed across the bare buttocks by a professional caner with a rattan rod.

Jayakumar said the district judge was “formally cautioned” and will not sign Warrants of Commitment – court documents informing prison officials of prisoners’ sentences – in future.

The minister said the error arose after a court clerk entered the wrong sentence.

“Unfortunately, the sentencing district judge also did not spot the error,” Jayakumar said on the website, adding the court clerk has since resigned.

Tan’s mother is in talks with the government to seek monetary compensation of up to S$3 million ($2 million) over the mistake, according to local media.

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