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Singapore promises not to cane suspected bank robber if UK sends him back to face trial

David Roach, a Canadian citizen, is wanted in the city state for allegedly stealing from a Standard Chartered bank branch in 2016 after strolling in and presenting a threatening note

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 February, 2018, 7:51pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 20 February, 2018, 11:02pm

Singapore has agreed not to cane a man accused of carrying out a rare bank robbery in the city state if Britain extradites him to face charges, officials said on Tuesday.

David Roach, a Canadian citizen, is wanted in Singapore for allegedly stealing Sg$30,000 (US$22,700) from a Standard Chartered bank branch in 2016 after strolling in and presenting a threatening note.

He fled to Bangkok, where he was jailed on charges related to bringing the stolen cash into Thailand but authorities refused to send him to Singapore as the countries do not have an extradition treaty.

After his release, he was detained in January at London’s Heathrow Airport while in transit en route to Canada and Singapore has requested that he be deported to the city state. Singapore and Britain have an extradition treaty.

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Flogging with a heavy rattan cane is a common punishment in Singapore and is a legacy of British colonial rule, with convicted bank robbers facing a minimum penalty of six strokes, as well as at least two years in jail.

But Singapore’s Ministry of Home Affairs said Britain had sought assurances that if found guilty, Roach would not face corporal punishment. Britain abolished caning as a punishment for criminals in 1948.

“The Singapore government is working with UK authorities on the extradition of David James Roach to Singapore,” the ministry said in a statement.

“As part of the extradition proceedings, the UK Government has requested an assurance that if Roach were to be found guilty by a Singapore court of robbery, the sentence of corporal punishment will not be carried out.”

“The Singapore government has agreed to the UK authorities’ request. UK extradition laws prohibit UK from extraditing Roach to Singapore in the absence of such an assurance,” the ministry said in a statement.

The ministry insisted the concession was necessary to ensure Roach does not escape justice, and said the decision “does not affect the general position taken by Singapore on corporal punishment”.

Roach is wanted in Singapore on one count of robbery and one count of money laundering.

Bank robberies are extremely rare in Singapore, whose zero-tolerance approach to crime has made it one of Asia’s safest cities.