Singapore sentences Saudi diplomat to caning 'for molesting hotel intern'

But father of three, who was on holiday with family, is appealing sentence. His legal team accuse victim of trying to extort money

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The Independent Online

A Saudi diplomat has been sentenced to a caning by a judge in Singapore for allegedly molesting a hotel intern.

Bander Yahya A Alzahrani, who works for the Saudi Arabia Embassy in Beijing, faces four strokes of the stick after being found guilty of groping the 20-year-old woman in an en-suite bathroom.

Caning is legal for sexual abuse, vandalism and rioting offenders, as well as for foreigners who have overstayed visas by more than 90 days.

The same corporal punishment can be dished out for convicts in Mr Alzahrani’s native Saudi Arabia.

According to the Straits Times, the court heard the father of three was on holiday with his family when he started kissing the intern on her neck and face in a Sentosa hotel on 14 August last year.

The popular island resort attracts around 20m people each year and boasts a 2km-long sheltered beach, two golf courses, 14 hotels and a Universal Studios theme park.

The 39-year-old was convicted of molesting her on two occasions, and during the second time, forcing her to touch him.

District Judge Lee Poh Choo reportedly found the victim, who denied her allegations were part of a false conspiracy to extort money, “unusually convincing”.

He was also sentenced today to 26 months and one week in jail, but because he is appealing the conviction, has been released on a $S20,000 (£11,400) bail.

Corporal punishment is largely banned throughout Europe and in 31 US states.

Indonesia, one of several south-east Asia countries where caning is written into the national judicial system, caned a 20-year-old woman for standing too close to her boyfriend.

The Independent has contacted the Saudi embassy, in Singapore, for comment.