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    Mar 08, 2016

    2 SAF officers linked to NSF's death convicted

    TWO SAF officers were convicted by the military court for being negligent during a 2012 training exercise, in which full-time national serviceman Dominique Sarron Lee died after an allergic reaction to smoke grenades used during the session.

    They were found guilty in a summary trial in 2013, even though a Coroner's Inquiry and an independent Committee of Inquiry did not find them "directly responsible" for Pte Lee's death, said the Singapore Army.

    The SAF, however, did not indicate the punishment that was meted out to the exercise's chief safety officer Chia Thye Siong and the platoon commander who threw the smoke grenades, Najib Hanuk Muhamad Jalal.

    Revealing this yesterday, Brigadier-General (BG) Chan Wing Kai, commander of the army's Training and Doctrine Command, also pledged to "remain committed" to assisting Pte Lee's family.

    Besides disbursing welfare grants since the incident, the SAF has also offered the family compensation which is "generally two to four times that of amounts" provided under the work injury compensation law for incidents arising from training and operations, BG Chan said in a post on the army's Facebook page.

    The Defence Ministry also waived the legal costs from a previous case which Pte Lee's family eventually withdrew.

    In his post, the general sought to clarify issues following a public outcry after the High Court on Thursday struck out a lawsuit brought against the SAF and two officers by Pte Lee's family.

    The court also ruled that Pte Lee's family has to pay legal costs of $22,000 to the three defendants.

    Following that, Pte Lee's mother, Madam Felicia Seah, put up a Facebook post questioning the decision. It triggered an outpouring of sympathy from the public.

    Addressing the debate yesterday, BG Chan said the SAF took "administrative and disciplinary action" against Chia and Najib.

    Based on the size of the training area, no more than two smoke grenades should have been used. But Najib threw six, flouting the SAF's training safety regulations.

    BG Chan said they were convicted in a summary trial "for negligent performance of lawful order or duty" and punished according to military law.

    He highlighted that SAF servicemen can be charged and punished in the criminal courts for offences of committing rash and negligent acts, "even during the course of their military duties".

    When contacted, Pte Lee's uncle, Sean Seah, told The Straits Times that the family is disappointed in SAF's response. "If the officers are found to have been negligent in their duties, how can they not be directly responsible for Dominique's death?"