IamA American who's currently being held in Singapore (641 days and counting) for a crime I didn't commit AMA!
Edit 8: Putting this first because the thread has been trolled hard and there's a lot of misinformation.
Short version: I upset a taxi driver. He grabbed at me from behind. I reflexively turned and put my hands up, pushing him back. He came at me again and tried to fight me. I said, "What are you doing? I could kill you." warning him not to attack me. He came at me anyway. I grabbed his phone from him and threw it behind him so he'd have to go get it and leave me alone. It worked. I walked away, but he caught up. He grabbed at me from behind and managed to punch me. I pushed away from him and walked away again. He came at me again, and this time when I pushed him away he fell into a water fountain. He followed my gf and I for nearly a kilometer, shouting and trying to fight me. We got to a crowded area and I told him to call the police. Police came and they talked to him. He put on a show, and an ambulance came and they wheeled him out on a gurney. Police weren't interested in my side of things. They arrested me and charged me a few months later with the Singapore equivalent of assault, having not checked CCTV cameras, witnesses, or considered the lack of his injuries and the existence of my injuries.
TL;DR: I pissed off a local taxi driver by accident. Guy lost his cool and attacked me. Police/Attorney General/ Judge took his version of events at face value despite a lack of evidence and witnesses, or the contradictions in testimony. I was convicted in Nov after being stuck waiting ~18 months for the trial. Still here now because I'm appealing.
If this story sounds unlikely, keep in mind it just happened here to another foreigner. From second hand information, in that case, the foreigner was convinced to go to the police by his wife to report the assault. The police arrested him instead, and convinced him that they had eye witnesses saying he brutishly attacked the taxi driver in a totally one sided manner. That was apparently a lie, but not trusting his own memory, the foreigner plead guilty and offered the taxi driver $30,000 in compensation, which the bastard happily took.
DISCLAIMER Below is a more in-depth account of what's happened, but far from all encompassing. I've written bullet points of the testimony and case in the first person, so when you see something like
"Falls to the ground each time."
that's the case or testimony that was made, not necessarily what actually happened or my version of events.
I don't want to persuade anyone that I'm right. I want to fairly put forth the evidence and documents and let the public see what's happened here. Everything is available in this Google drive.
I'll keep this going till I'm imprisoned or released, or the government orders it down.
The original post in it's entirety below:
My short bio: Forewarning, I'm 13 hours ahead of EST (11am EST = 12am for me), and my girlfriend, before leaving on a business trip, gave me a water bottle full of Japanese whisky, so this might get ugly.
I'm a former SEAL (it's going to come up anyway) who left the military in '13 to see a bit of the World. In March '14, I went to Singapore to see my girlfriend (same one). On May 31, we had a small run in with an angry taxi driver who spastically attacked me and chaased the two of us about a kilometer. Somewhat unsurprisingly police charged me with assault, apparently without making any attempts to investigate beyond taking the statements of the taxi driver, myself, and my girlfriend.
I was (I'm pretty damn confident, wrongfully) convicted in October 2015, after a 5 day trial, in which no physical evidence, footage, or even witnesses to the event were produced by the State. I am currently appealing that conviction to the High Court.
While fighting the charges, the authorities are preventing me from leaving the country or working and my name has been run through the mud by the local media. Since the trial has concluded and all of the documents are available in the public record, feel free to AMA about the case. If my answers sometimes sound insincere, understand the political climate I'm in.
If there's any interest about my time in the SEALs, AMA about that as well.
Note: There is very high chance this AMA will be brigaded by Singaporeans. I've said some unflattering things about the country before, and last time I tried to do an AMA about my case it went down like a lead balloon.
A little background: This is a bit dense, more than 500 pages of testimony,etc. I'll try to keep it brief.
- March 25: I fly to Singapore to visit my Australian girlfriend who is working there.
- May 31: Incident with taxi driver. The responding Officers ask me to come to the station, where they arrest me for Failing to Furnish Particulars.
- Later that afternoon, I'm questioned by Investigations Officer (IO) Ismail, who then re-arrest me for Misconduct in Public by a Drunken Person.
- Mon, June 2: Case is handed over to IO Fadzly.
- Week of June 23: New IO contacts me by phone and request followup interview later in the week.
- Realize the SPF would not be asking for additional statements if they had CCTV footage. Start making direct request for CCTV myself. Totally stonewalled.
- Meet with IO Fadzly and give second statement. Informed of possible additional charges. Unhappy with second statement as typed by IO, refuse to sign.
- July 1: Finalize Further Statement and sign it.
- July 25: Called in and informed I was to be charged with Mischief and VCH for first time. Sign charge sheets.
- July 29: Charged in Court
- Aug 1: Go to walk in clinic to get a Doctor's assessment of my now healed cheek, expressly for the purpose of the impending case.
- Sometime in July or Aug, the case is handed over again, this time to IO Adrian.
- Sep 8: IO Adrian checks w/ Mr Lim about value of walkie-talkie.
- Feb 6: Post request for advice on CCTV systems to /r/RBI. using this alt account This starts the Singaporean brigades.
- May 12: IO Adrian visits the scene (ostensibly for the 1st time).
- May 27: 1st Day of Trial. Testimony from:
- IO Adrian
- IO for the case.
- Role in case was to conduct the following investigations:
- took pictures of the scene (May 12).
- asked Mr Lim the value of the walkie-talkie.
- tried (and failed) to prove I was lying about not being seeing by a Doctor while in custody.
- Mr Lim
- taxi driver/ 'victim'
- Judge offered him a Chinese interpreter because his English is bad. pg. 47
- didn’t have a booking. Dropped passenger at OUE. Wanted to go to MBS.
- went to throw away rubbish, thought I was stealing his things, ran back and grabbed them.
- claims I slammed car door on his right leg when he got back in car. Judge uses the bruise on his left knee as evidence of this.
- calls Police at this point and tells me not to leave. Tugs on my shirt to stop me from leaving.
- is pushed "at least" three times next to the taxi. Falls to the ground each time.
- gives chase when I attempt to walk away. Somewhere near the bushes, I turn suddenly and punch him, and push him.
- at this location I throw his walkie-talkie into the water.
- Judge to Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP),”you are telling the story yourself.” pg. 58
- wanted to stand up to foreigners bullying locals. pg. 97
- May 28: 2nd Day of Trial Testimony from:
- SSSGT John
- senior responding Officer
- admitted to being briefed on his testimony. Judge stops proceedings to explain that Singapore isn't that kind of country and to warn Defense counsel against making accusations.
- the First Information Report (FIR) that SSSGT John wrote hours after the incident is considered by the Judge to be a confession by me. He testified he took no notes while talking with Mr Lim or myself.
- repeatedly says I wouldn't answer him about the assault and that I said nothing.
- claims not to have had access to P8 (the FIR) before giving his testimony, repeatedly states that "it's all in the FIR" when questioned on his testimony.
- wouldn't testify that I was drunk, only that I smelled of alcohol.
- Cpl Muzaffar
- junior responding Officer
- filed the arrest report.
- essentially same testimony: Didn't witness anything. Got Mr Lim's version of events. Saw a "small bump" on his cheek.
Sorry, this is getting hefty.
Just the highlight reel, aka TL;DGet Justice:
IO Fadzly testified he didn't know there were CCTV cameras in the area (the area being downtown Singapore). Really? You didn't know there might be CCTV cameras in downtown Singapore? Really?
DPP got the MD who examined Mr Lim (Dr Neo) to read the Paramedic's notes, and then used those words in his submissions as if those were the MD's diagnoses herself. The Judge went right along with it.
edit: I suppose I should give a quick recap of my perspective of events.
- Met gf and friends who were in town at another friend's apartment for cocktail party at about 7.
- About 10:30 we go downtown, my first time in the area at night.
- I'm burned out on socializing so I sit downstairs and people watch.
- Friend gets me and tells me gf is sick upstairs.
- Get her and we start heading home.
- Walk to closest street to hail a cab. Two guys are already there, looking dejected.
- After a few minutes of no success, start stepping out into the road so the cabs can see me.
- Get one, offer it to one of the guys who was there first, his friend had just gotten another one though so they decline. Let that cab go because gf isn't ready.
- Get second cab, Mr Lim. Get in behind driver and open door for gf. She gets in. She states the address.
- Driver stars shouting. She's pleading. I'm not saying anything. Within 30 sec the driver has left the car.
- She gets out suddenly and starts walking off. I get out, I don't know where she thinks she's going, all the cabs are on this street. I start to try to get another cab, but she's still walking away, and I don't see the driver.
- Go to turn off his engine, but there's no keys in the ignition (2012 Chrysler's have a remote fob).
- Leaning into car, confused.
- Start getting out and I'm startled by someone grabbing at me.
- Push away with both open hands, turns out it's Mr Lim. Looks like he's falling back to a knee but I'm already turning and walking away.
- Start going after gf.
- About 30meters later hear Mr Lim approaching quickly, he sounds angry.
- Turn around to confront him. We kind of grab at each other's arms, like 8 year olds fighting. I say, "what are you doing? I could kill you"
- He was waving his cell phone as he approached, manage to snatch it out of his hands it throw it behind him toward some grass.
- He goes to get it, I walk off. Gf is around the corner of a building by now.
- I get another 200meters or so and I can't find my gf. I'm looking for her when Mr Lim shows back up.
- He holds his camera in my face and takes some pictures.
- I start walking off and he grabs me from behind.
- We grab at each other some more and this time he catches me with a hook to my left cheek. Break away from him.
- He approaches me again, now next to a fountain, and now I'm really annoyed with him for having hit me, so I push him hard to the chest with both hands and he falls into the fountain.
- He appeared to me to be engaged in some epic quest to right a wrong (me reflexively pushing him next to the taxi).
- I just wanted to get my gf home before she started crying.
- At no time did I attack him.
- I never threw a punch.
- He chased us 830 meters. We couldn't get another taxi because he'd yell at the driver.
- Eventually I ask my gf if she feels ok going home alone, and send her off to catch a cab herself, while I resolve the situation.
- Anyway, cops come, I wait while he puts on a song and dance about his neck and arms, etc.
- Ambulance comes, I wait while they put him on stretcher with a neck brace.
- Ambu leaves, now I'll get to explain to the cops what happened, except they just want to see my ID, which is in my gf's purse.
- So the cops are very meek, they ask me if I'll come with them to the station until they can confirm my ID.
- I say yes, ask to go take a piss real quick before we go.
- They say sure, frisk me real quick. I piss (in a mcdonald's bathroom). Then get in the back of the car.
- When we get into the parking garage under the police station they tell me it's SOP that they put cuffs on me before we go in. Whatever, sure.
- I get cuffed to a bench and left for an hour.
- It occurs to me that they're not interested in my ID, they're just arresting me.
- I get in processed and spend the night in a cell. Most of them are cool, but a couple of them were pricks. Cell was clean. They got a laugh out of me sleeping naked and using my clothes as a pillow.
edit: The top voted comment is from /u/decepticle_ronnie, who is running all over the thread spouting off that I'm a liar and full of bullshit. This person hasn't bothered to check the facts. Claims I'm lying about being a SEAL, quotes linked transcripts 180 degrees out of context, makes judgement calls about me personally without knowing anything about my background. Basically the worst kind of knee jerk reddit behavior.
The entire Court transcript is available online. All of the Court documents are available. My name is out there. Take a breath and start checking facts before jumping on board the hate train with Ronnie.
Edit 3: Really degraded Don't call someone a liar just because you have incomplete information.
Edit 4: This is what I meant when I said 'spastic'. Behavior like this and this and this (gym guy threatening to call the cops on me for deadlifting in the gym)
EDIT 5: Been up for 40 hours. I'm going to get some sleep. Hopefully that'll give people time to peruse through the case file and ask more informed questions. I'll be back at about 8 EST tonight. Thanks.
Edit 6: I'm back. Let me clear up some common misconceptions.
I've included the highlights of the testimony of other people, as well as the Prosecution's Submissions and the Judge's Decisions. The whole point of my defense is that those statements and conclusions are incorrect and do not accurately reflect what happened. Please don't confuse my writing that Mr Lim said I did something with me saying that I did something.
The charges relate to specific instances. I'm not charged with VCH in general, but VCH as it relates to specifically punching Mr Lim with my hand on his left face. To the absolute best of my knowledge, which is supported by an absence of any wound to Mr Lims face, I did not punch him. I also did not instigate physical contact between us. I understand now that the manner in which I stopped his car and my leaning into his car could cause someone to react the way he did. I'm not claiming that he wasn't reacting in a normal way. I am claiming that I reacted in a normal way as well. I am a quite, low profile guy. I did not behave in an aggressive manner towards Mr Lim. I tried to walk away. He chased me. He instigated physical contact.
The Judge's GD, which seem to be the most commonly read bit of actual Court record, are the cherry picked bits of the case, which my lawyers and I will argue, are taken wildly out of context and often misinterpreted, in order to justify his decision to convict. That document was written well after I was convicted and sentenced. The Court transcripts for my conviction date are available. On that day the Judge said he based his decision to convict largely on the lack of corroborating evidence from my gf, fundamentally failing to consider that my gf was not at the scene for most of the bulk of the confrontations with Mr Lim and had spotty memory of what happened, and only testified to what she remembered actually seeing.
Edit 7: I have to say I'm disappointed Reddit. I expected the first day or two to be people who wouldn't bother to verify anything flaming me and some brigades. I honestly thought that by day 3 there'd be at least one person who had read the Subs, transcripts, clinical notes, etc. I know it's not the juiciest case, but it's not all that much to sort through. It is a clear case of injustice. I'm not saying that because I'm delusional or arrogant, check the records. It's borne out in the transcripts.