Michael Fay Knew of Consequences of Pleading Guilty, Says Lawyer
SINGAPORE (AP) _ Michael Fay’s lawyer said the American teen-ager and his family knew he could be lashed if he pleaded guilty to vandalism, a major newspaper reported today.
Ramanathan Palakrishnan spoke to The Straits Times with the permission of his client. The newspaper quoted Palakrishnan as disputing a version of the trial from George Fay, the youth’s father in Kettering, Ohio, and his American lawyer, Theodore Simon.
Michael Fay, 18, is among several teen-agers accused of spray-painting cars and other mischief during a vandalism spree last year in Singapore.
The case sparked an international controversy about crime and punishment with many Americans siding with Singapore against critics of its tough penal code.
The elder Fay contends his son did not commit the vandalism but pleaded guilty on the understanding that he would avoid caning with a rattan rod.
″They double-crossed us,″ the father said in a telephone interview May 4, a day before the youth received four strokes of the sentence reduced from original six lashes after Singapore considered appeals from President Clinton.
Fay is also serving four months behind bars and has paid a fine equivalent to $2,244. With good behavior, he could be released June 21.
″At no single point in time was any assurance given to Michael Fay or his family here that caning would be avoided if he pleaded guilty to the vandalism charges,″ Palakrishnan said.
″The decision in the end was his, after a full and realistic discussion of all aspects of the charges,″ he added.
Fay has lived in Singapore since 1992 with his mother and his stepfather, Marco Chan. They plan to return to the United States as soon as Michael is freed.
Arrested in the same case were Shiu Chi Ho, 17, of Hong Kong, American Stephen Freehill, 16, and two 15-year-old Malaysians.
Shiu was sentenced to 12 lashes, eight months behind bars and a $968 fine. Freehill is awaiting trial, as is one of the Malaysian youths. A pretrial conference is scheduled Monday for Freehill.
The other Malaysian is serving two months in a boys’ home after pleading guilty in juvenile court. He testified for the prosecution at Shiu’s trial.