Tuesday, July 20, 2021
A 16-year-old schoolboy in Singapore has been charged with murdering a fellow student, in a case that has shocked the country.
Police officers called into a high school on Monday found the body of a 13-year-old boy in a bathroom. An axe was seized as evidence.
Initial investigations found that the two boys did not know each other.
Extreme violence in schools is rare in Singapore, which has one of the lowest crime rates in the world.
The incident saw the prestigious River Valley High School briefly go into lockdown. Students who were kept in classrooms sent panicked messages to their friends and parents, with some saying they had seen a person wielding an axe, according to news reports.
They were eventually released after the accused was arrested.
At a court hearing on Tuesday, the 16-year-old was charged with murder which in Singapore could result in the death penalty. However, as he is under 18, he faces possible life imprisonment instead.
Prosecutors asked the judge that the teenager be remanded for psychiatric assessment.
They said in court that he had previously been a patient at a mental health institution, after he had tried to kill himself in 2019.
Singapore’s law and home affairs minister K Shanmugam later said preliminary investigations suggested that the accused had bought the axe online.
“We all grieve with the parents of the boy who was killed. It’s difficult to even describe the true extent of their grief,” he added.
Under Singapore law both the victim and suspect cannot be named as they are under the age of 18.
The country’s education minister Chan Chun Sing said his ministry was working closely with police on the investigations, and also addressed students in the country saying: “You are never alone, and we will always stand ready to help you.”
The incident has sparked intense discussions online among Singaporeans about school safety and students’ mental health. Some have also raised questions on how the accused was able to purchase the axe.