FROM FRENCH JAIL TO S’PORE LOCK-UP
Nabbed for drugs in Paris, wanted in S’pore to help in murder probe.
By Jason Tan
His photo was splashed in newspapers on June 2, 2000, in a police manhunt, following a grisly murder here.
In the photo, Robson Tay, 38, had short, untidy hair, and looked slim.
Very different from the well-filled-out man with long, wavy hair who was escorted out of Changi Airport Terminal Two by police yesterday.
Tay had just been deported from France, after spending the last two years in a Paris prison for drug trafficking.
Wearing a smart jacket as he walked out of Row 32 of the arrival hall, Tay looked relaxed as he chatted with a plainclothes Criminal Investigation Department (CID) detective.
The only indication of his trouble with the law was that he had handcuffs on his wrists, and two uniformed police officers were escorting him.
When I asked him how he was, he just smiled.
He was then led to a waiting car, together with his suitcase and a black trash bag containing his belongings.
Police spokesman Chua Chee Wai said: “He was deported from France to assist police with investigations into the murder of Mr. Leong Fook Weng.”
Mr. Leong, then 26 and an odd-job worker, was stabbed to death. His body was dumped at Kheam Hock Road on May 17, 2000. (See report below.)
Tay’s photo, together with those of two other men, was published in newspapers here on June 2, during a police manhunt.
Tay, who had fled the country, was nabbed nearly three months later, on Aug 25, 2000, when he travelled on his Singapore passport from Brazil to Paris.
COCAINE FOUND ON HIM
He was arrested at a Paris airport after 5 kg of cocaine was found on him.
He was subsequently thrown into the Villepinte Prison in the Bobigny district of Paris.
It is not known how long his sentence was, but there is no death penalty in France.
The Singapore Embassy in Paris soon learned of his case and informed the police here.
They had put up a police gazette against Tay, making him a wanted man.
The New Paper had also reported on Tay’s drug arrest in February last year.
At that time, a police spokesman had said that Singapore and France do not have an extradition treaty.
“We have to see whether France wants to hand him over to us. At the moment, we’re liaising with the France police to interview him,” the spokesman had said.
In July last year, three CID officers flew to Paris to try to arrange for his deportation. But nothing was fixed because, under French law, Tay had a right to go to any country he wanted after his release.
He asked to go to Holland, but his request, made through his French lawyer, was rejected by the Dutch government.
In the end, with Tay due for release on Tuesday, the French authorities agreed to deport him to Singapore.
Two French police officers then escorted Tay from prison to Charles de Gaulle Airport on Tuesday night, and put him on an Air France flight bound for Singapore.
They handed him over to Singapore police after the plane touched down here at 2:45 pm yesterday.
Murdered, shirt burnt
Mr. Leong Fook Weng (right), was found on a vacant plot of land with stab wounds in his chest in May 2000.
He was clad only in his underwear, and his shirt had been burnt.
His pager and a pair of slippers were found nearby.
The odd-job worker lived with his brother and parent in a flat at Bukit Merah View.
After the murder, CID officers interviewed more than 150 of Mr. Leong’s friends.
They found that before we has killed, he had attended a wake at Upper Boon Keng Road, and had left in a car with a few others.
Several Disorderly Men
The police also spoke to witnesses who saw Mr. Leong at a Tanjong Katong petrol kiosk with several disorderly men.
CID then tracked down the car, a white Mitsubishi Lancer which allegedly belonged to See Chee Keong, 35.
See is still in a prison in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
He was arrested at the Pochentong international airport on Dec 2, 2000, with 5 kg of heroin strapped to his body.
He was nabbed just as he was about to board a Malaysian Airlines flight bound for Kuala Lumpur.
Singapore has no extradition treaty with Cambodia.
Within two weeks of the murder, the police also arrested a 19-year-old national serviceman.
Meanwhile, police are still looking for another suspect: Ong Chin Huat, 38.
WANTED: Robson Tay as he looked two years ago when he was sought by the police.
CUFFED: Tay, escorted out of Changi airport yesterday.
Picture: Kua Che Siong
“He was deported from France to assist police with investigations into the murder of Mr. Leong Fook Weng.” – A police spokesman, on Robson Tay, who spent two years in a French prison after being arrested at a Paris airport with 5 kg of cocaine on him