Two German men sentenced to caning and nine months in prison by Singapore court for graffiti train carriage

Andreas Von Knorre and Elton Hinz’s sentence has been criticised as 'torture'

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A court in Singapore has sentenced two German men to be caned and nine months in prison for spray-painting graffiti on a commuter train carriage.

Andreas Von Knorre, 22, and Elton Hinz, 21, pleaded guilty to breaking into a train depot in Bishan and spraying the SMRT train last November.

They fled Singapore after being accused of vandalism and trespass but were tracked down in neighbouring Malaysia and brought back to face trial.

Both men issued public apologies when they appeared in court dressed in prison uniforms for sentencing, according to Reuters.

Von Knorre described the situation as “the darkest period of my life”.

"I want to apologise to the state of Singapore for the stupid act...I've learned my lesson and will never do it again,” he said.

Hinz added: "I promise I will never do it again. I want to apologise to you, and my family for the shame and situation I've put them into."

Singapore uses the rattan cane to carry out the sentence. Prisoners are stripped and strapped to a wooden trestle, while a medical officer waits on standby.

The city-state handed out over 2,000 caning sentences in 2012. Over 1,000 of these were foreigners caned for immigration offences, according to the US State Department.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) condemned caning as a form of torture and said Singapore’s decision to use it as a punishment is “indicative of a blatant disregard for international human rights standards”.

"One of the defendants said that sentencing day was the darkest day of his life, but in reality every day that Singapore keeps caning on its books is a dark day for the country's international reputation," said Phil Robertson, HRW’s deputy director of the Asia division.

In Berlin, a foreign ministry official said the government respected the sovereignty of Singapore, but stressed that "it speaks out against corporal punishment as a form of sentence worldwide".

Additional reporting by Reuters