SINGAPORE — A court in Singapore sentenced two Germans to nine months in prison and three strokes of the cane Thursday after they pleaded guilty to breaking into a depot and spraying a commuter train with graffiti. The country sentences hundreds of prisoners to caning each year as part of a system that has been criticized by rights groups.
"This is the darkest episode of my entire life," said one of the defendants, 22-year-old Andreas Von Knorre, told the court after admitting vandalism. "I want to apologize to the state of Singapore for the stupid act ... I've learned my lesson and will never do it again." The other defendant, Elton Hinz, 21, 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."
Well known for its cleanliness and its zero tolerance for crime, Singapore uses the rattan cane to carry out the sentence. Prisoners are stripped and strapped to a wooden trestle with a medical officer on hand to intervene if necessary. People who have been caned have called the pain excruciating.
According to the State Department, 2,203 caning sentences were carried out in 2012, including 1,070 foreigners caned for committing immigration offences.