Migrant worker accused of faking workplace injury acquitted
A migrant worker who was accused of faking a workplace injury to cheat his company was acquitted at the State Courts yesterday.
Mr Kirpal Singh, 24, was charged on April 8, 2019, with making fraudulent claims for compensation and lying to an investigating officer, after he cut his thumb while operating a grinder at work on Feb 20 that year.
Yesterday, Ministry of Manpower prosecutors withdrew the charges, and the former construction worker was then handed a stern warning and a discharge amounting to an acquittal. This means the Indian national cannot be charged again over the same offence.
No reason was given in court as to why the charges were dropped, but The Straits Times understands it was due to a lack of evidence after Mr Singh's lawyers made formal representation to the ministry on his behalf.
On Sept 15, the case went to trial but was put on hold when Mr Singh was advised to seek legal assistance from the Community Justice Centre (CJC), an independent charity at the State Courts.
On the second day of the trial, the CJC called on volunteer lawyers to represent Mr Singh on a pro bono basis. Mr Josephus Tan and Mr Cory Wong from Invictus Law Corporation stepped forward and later asked for the case to be stood down.
After Mr Singh's acquittal, Mr Tan told ST that his client, despite facing serious charges, was lost during the trial because of his inability to understand English. Although he had an interpreter, he was unable to comprehend the legal proceedings, Mr Tan added.
Mr Singh, who speaks Punjabi, told ST through an interpreter: "I was lost during the trial proceedings. Whatever the lawyers told me, I just followed. The idea of getting a lawyer never popped up because I have no money. I'm glad they (Mr Tan and Mr Wong) came to help me because I couldn't understand the whole legal process."
The acquittal marked the end of a two-year wait, during which he was out of work due to his injury and the ongoing court case.
He said: "Over those two years, I have been living off the kindness of friends who offered me a place to live, and temples in Little India and Boon Keng which provided free meals."
Mr Singh said he was elated with the outcome as it means he can return home soon to his parents and grandfather. It is not known when he will be repatriated to India.