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Singapore Court Sentences 2 Germans To Caning And Jail Over Graffiti

Andreas Von Knorre (right), one of two German nationals arrested for vandalism in Singapore, arrives in a police car at the state court on Nov. 22, 2014. Both men were sentenced Thursday to a prison term and caning.

Two young German men who broke into a train depot in Singapore to spray-paint graffiti on a commuter train car have been sentenced to nine months in prison and three strokes from a cane. They were tracked down and arrested in Malaysia last November.

Andreas Von Knorre, 22, and Elton Hinz, 21, had been working in Australia when they traveled to Singapore and broke into the depot. They soon became the subject of an international pursuit.

"They were later located in Bangkok by the Thai police," The Straits Times reports. "Malaysia police arrested the pair at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport on Nov 20 and they were extradited to Singapore the next day."

Singapore is famous for its strict laws aimed at maintaining order and cleanliness in the city-state. It has also drawn criticism from the Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International and the U.S. government for reports of abuses.

Von Knorre and Hinz, who have admitted to their crimes, showed remorse and sought mercy in court Thursday.

From Reuters:

" 'This is the darkest episode of my entire life,' said Von Knorre. 'I want to apologize to the state of Singapore for the stupid act...I've learned my lesson and will never do it again.'

"Hinz added: 'I promise I will never do it again. I want to apologize to you, and my family for the shame and situation I've put them into.' "

Announcing the sentence, Judge Liew Thiam Leng said, "The offenses are quite well planned and premeditated," according to German newspaper Deutsche Welle.

The case has brought renewed focus on a strict legal system in Singapore that drew many Americans' attention in 1994. That's when American Michael Fay, 19, was caned for vandalizing cars, a case that strained relations between Singapore and the U.S.

The most recent U.S. State Department report on human rights in Singapore notes, "In 2012 the courts sentenced 2,500 persons to judicial caning, and 2,203 caning sentences were carried out; including 1,070 foreigners caned for committing immigration offenses."

In Singapore, many people were already fixated on another case this week that reflects the city-state's willingness to hand out prison terms: A self-employed man who lied about his address so his daughter could attend a prestigious primary school was sentenced to two weeks in jail.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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