Singapore officials on Thursday ordered three strokes of a cane and nine months in jail for two German men, after finding them guilty of vandalism and trespassing. The two men were found guilty of painting graffiti on a train in November 2014.
Andreas Von Knorre and Elton Hinz reportedly expressed remorse during the court hearing. In the past, hundreds of people, including foreigners, have been caned and imprisoned by Singapore for vandalism. The latest order comes even as international human rights groups have criticized the practice of caning in the city-state, which has earned the title of "Fine City" for imposing strict penalties on seemingly minor offenses.
"The imprisonment sentence in this case will be a total of nine months... and the mandatory minimum of three strokes of the cane," District Judge Liew Thiam Leng said, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP), adding: "Overall, the court is of the view that the circumstances and facts of this case will justify the proposed sentence given by the prosecution."
The German men had arrived in Singapore on Nov. 4 and had sneaked into a train depot through a drainage system and by scaling a wall on Nov. 7, AFP reported. The next day, the duo painted graffiti on a train carriage, measuring 1.8 meters in height and 10 meters in length. The cost of cleaning the graffiti was estimated at 13,650 Singapore dollars ($9,970). The two men had fled Singapore after the incident and were reportedly caught in Malaysia while attempting to escape to Australia.
"This is the darkest episode of my entire life," Von Knorre said, according to Reuters, adding: "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 country’s zero-tolerance for crime gained international attention in 1994 when an American teenager, Michael Fay, was caned for damaging cars and public property. Despite several appeals, including from President Bill Clinton, authorities continued with their decision to cane Fay as punishment, albeit after reducing the number of strokes, BBC reported.
"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," Hinz said, according to Reuters.