SINGAPORE: A Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) serviceman on Tuesday (Nov 19) was fined and demoted after he admitted to causing the death of national serviceman Aloysius Pang.
Third Sergeant (National Service) Hubert Wah, 31, pleaded guilty to one charge of causing death by a negligent act under the Penal Code, and another charge of a negligent act of endangering life under the SAF Act.
He was fined S$5,000 for the charge of causing death by a negligent act and fined another S$3,000 for a negligent act of endangering life. His rank will be demoted to Corporal.
The military court heard that 3SG (NS) Wah, a detachment commander, failed to ensure that Pang was not in the travel path of the flick rammer of the Singapore Self-Propelled Howitzer, resulting in the flick rammer pinning Pang against the centre slew ring of the Howitzer, thereby causing his death.
For the other charge, the court heard that 3SG (NS) Wah failed to activate the emergency stop button that would have stopped the flick rammer.
A person convicted for causing death by a negligent act faces up to two years' jail and/or a fine.
In 3SG (NS) Wah’s mitigation, his defence lawyer said Pang’s next-of-kin had asked for the court to be lenient on the accused.
For the charge of causing death, the prosecution said it did not object to only a fine being imposed. If a fine was to be imposed, it should be the maximum S$5,000.
Meanwhile, Military Expert 2 Ivan Teo Gee Siang, 35, also pleaded guilty to two charges of a negligent act of endangering life under the SAF Act and another charge of disobedience of general orders under the SAF Act.
He was fined a total of S$7,000 for the three charges.
For the first two charges, ME2 Teo failed to alert 3SG (NS) Wah that Pang was in the travel path of the flick rammer, and failed to activate the emergency stop button that would have halted it, the court heard.
For his third charge, ME2 Teo proceeded to loosen the outer cover of a box in the Howitzer when its barrel was not in a parked position, despite a maintenance manual indicating so.
3SG (NS) Wah and ME2 Teo had been charged on Jul 31 but their charges were amended.
As Pang died in New Zealand, the Singapore Police Force does not have jurisdiction to conduct investigations into his death.
Instead, the SAF’s Special Investigation Branch (SIB) investigated his death and produced findings which led to the military prosecution of the two servicemen.
Corporal First Class (NS) Pang died in January after sustaining serious injuries during an SAF training exercise in New Zealand. He was crushed between the gun barrel and cabin while carrying out maintenance work in the Howitzer.
The 28-year-old actor was in New Zealand for Exercise Thunder Warrior, a live firing exercise involving the Howitzer.
The accident that led to his death was caused by lapses by Pang and two other servicemen who were in the Howitzer at the time, a Committee of Inquiry (COI) had found.
Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen told Parliament on May 6, citing the COI’s findings, that the “precipitating cause” of the incident was that the gun barrel was lowered without ensuring that everyone was in a safe position.
The COI found that the ME2 technician – a regular – did not ensure that Pang moved to a safe position despite knowing that the barrel would be lowered, while the 3SG (NS) gun commander – an operationally-ready national serviceman – moved the barrel despite noticing that Pang was not in a safe position.
Both the technician and gun commander failed to press the emergency stop buttons to stop the barrel movement, the COI added.