SAF captain pleads not guilty over Bionix incident where NSF died
The Singapore Armed Forces captain accused of acting rashly in an incident that led to the death of full-time national serviceman (NSF) Liu Kai pleaded not guilty yesterday.
Corporal First Class (CFC) Liu, 22, was driving Ong Lin Jie in a Land Rover that was mounted by a reversing Bionix Infantry Fighting Vehicle during a training exercise in 2018.
Ong, 30, is accused of acting rashly by failing to keep a safe distance of 30m between the Land Rover and the Bionix, ordering CFC Liu to overtake it though it was unsafe to do so, and without first establishing communication with the other vehicle.
Ong has since been suspended from service.
The prosecution contends Ong should have known there was a risk the Bionix might need to reverse, as part of the drill. "Despite this obvious risk, the accused ordered the deceased to overtake (the Bionix) without first establishing any communication with (its) crew to ensure it was safe to do so."
Ong's lawyer, Mr Teo Choo Kee, argued there was no regulation that stated his client had to establish communication with the Bionix before overtaking it.
In questioning prosecution witness, Captain Wan Hong Wee, the conducting officer in the exercise, Mr Teo noted the practice of overtaking a stationary armoured vehicle like the Bionix would be to ensure a 2m width between the two vehicles.
Capt Wan testified that while he was not aware of any stipulation that one had to establish communication before overtaking, he would have honked to make his intention clear.
The court heard that on Nov 3, 2018, the 42nd Battalion Singapore Armoured Regiment was conducting a company exercise.
Ong was there as a trainer and responsible for the safety of CFC Liu, the only other person in the Land Rover with him.
Shortly before 10am, Ong and CFC Liu stopped about 30m behind the Bionix at a junction. Ong ordered CFC Liu to overtake it on its left.
CFC Liu heard rounds being fired and stopped 16m to 18m behind the Bionix, which reversed and mounted the driver's side of the Land Rover, pinning CFC Liu in his seat.
The cause of death was traumatic asphyxia.
The trial continues today.