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Benjamin Lim's Case: Facts and Falsehoods

Minister for Home Affairs and Law K Shanmugam's ministerial statement
by

April Snow

on 1 March 2016

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Transcript of Benjamin Lim's Case: Facts and Falsehoods

INVESTIGATION: How it was done
REDUCING SYSTEMIC RISK
SMEAR CAMPAIGN BY TOC
The Online Citizen tried to undermine public trust in the Police

Published no less than 20 articles as part of smear campaign

Narrative conveyed by TOC articles
Police lied about going to school in plainclothes - FALSE
Police intimidated the boy - FALSE
Police put pressure on him to confess - FALSE

They want public to think Benjamin was innocent and committed suicide purely because of Police actions

Misinformation not only untrue but wholly improper because of upcoming Coroner's inquiry
Tuesday, March 01, 2016
FACTS:
THIO SHEN YI: ERRORS HE MADE
25th Jan 2016 police report made
11 year old girl molested in lift by boy in school uniform

Boy later identified as Benjamin Lim

CCTV footage
- Benjamin detoured from normal route to follow girl
- Girl entered lift, Benjamin quickly followed
- Incident took place in lift, captured on CCTV
- Benjamin got off at 13th floor
- Took stairs to 12th floor
- Took lift to ground floor
WHAT HE SAID
5 Police officers spoke to Benjamin.
These 5 police officers took him to the Police Station.
Implied Police intimidated him.

Effectively implied that Benjamin killed himself because of police intimidation
Benjamin Lim's Case
FACTS & FALSEHOODS
Ministerial Statement
Alleged Molest Offence
FALSEHOODS
INVESTIGATIONS INVOLVING YOUNG PERSONS
WHAT WOULD HAVE HAPPENED
SUICIDE
RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE PROTOCOL
Ministry of Home Affairs responsible for ensuring proper Protocol; ultimate responsibility is with the Minister

Police officer's responsibility is to act according to Protocol

In this case, the police officers have carried out duties faithfully and according to Protocol

Any issues with Protocol, the Minister takes responsibility and will address them

Will review the Protocol for police interviews with young persons
Police went to school in
plain clothes
and
unmarked cars

Benjamin interviewed by
one
officer in principal's office in presence of principal and other educators

Benjamin interviewed by
one
officer in police station

Interview conducted in open plan office, with officer at his workstation. Others were at their workstations

Mother gave statement to Police

Benjamin released in about 3 1/2 hours, went home with mother
2011-2015: 7,196 young persons (7-15 yrs old) investigated

70% either warned, placed on Guidance Programme or no further action taken

15% charged in court

15% of cases under consideration
AIM: Priority is to rehabilitate, not criminalise
If Benjamin had not taken his life
Police approach to young offenders
Police try to avoid criminalising the conduct, where possible
Better to give a second chance, help in rehabilitation

Charges brought against young offenders when:
Offence is very serious
Repeat offender

Likely Benjamin would receive no more than a warning
Taking into account his age
Also a first-time offence
Tolerant approach not a licence for young persons to commit crimes
Suicide involves a very complex set of factors

Does not mean if another adult present during interview, this tragic outcome could be avoided

Based on facts, cannot pinpoint interview as main reason for suicide

Assessment:
Getting an assessment of what happened
Many factors to consider
Experts need to be consulted

Points to note
Benjamin's mental state before alleged incident
a) Any stressors in his life?
b) What led him to be involved in incident?
Events during the day
The interview
Events after the interview
Police not in plainclothes when they went to school to identify Benjamin
Police officers were in plainclothes,
without
any Police markings
FALSE
TRUTH
5 officers interviewed Benjamin and intimidated him, coerced into admission
One
officer spoke to him in school, with principal and other educators. The other police officers were not present
Interviewed by
one
officer at police station
FALSE
TRUTH
Benjamin was not offered food and drink
Benjamin
declined
the offer of food and drink
FALSE
TRUTH
The girl may not have been molested and made a false report
CCTV footage captured incident
FALSE
TRUTH
Incorrect
Incorrect
Incorrect
THE ROLE OF THE MINISTRY OF HOME AFFAIRS
Will review to see any lessons to be learnt

Young persons are arrested for wide range of offences
Examples:
Gang riots
Rape
Physical assault

The review will balance two aspects
Ensure protocol is robust to prevent and detect any abuse
Without handicapping Police in their investigations
WHY MHA HAS NOT MADE ANY COMMENTS
Police issued a short statement on 1st Feb on broad facts of case

Decided not to comment further
Out of respect for the family - they are grieving
An upcoming Coroner's Inquiry (CI) will establish the facts of the case

CI process has to be respected. To discuss could be sub judice
Rules of Sub Judice preclude discussions which tend to prejudice proceedings

Full discussion can take place after CI, when facts have been established

But some, like TOC, chose to behave reprehensibly
Frequent assertions of untruths
Incited speculation on what happened
Unacceptable from a legal point of view, under principles of Sub Judice
Continued silence from Government
Misunderstood as Police have no answer
Will undermine public trust in the Police

Consulted AGC and decided to respond because of public interest

But with regret and much reservation
Because of pending Coroner's Inquiry
The families' situation
Full transcript