A former Florida State University football player may become the first American in 16 years to be caned in Singapore after he overstayed his visa, his lawyer said Thursday.
Kamari Charlton, who was a reserve tight end for Florida State from 1992 to 1996, was arrested Sept. 1 when he attempted to leave the city-state 169 days after his 90-day social visit pass expired, attorney M. Ravi said.
Charlton, who was born in the Bahamas and owns a construction company there, was in Singapore while his wife received medical care for pregnancy complications, Ravi said. It was not clear why Charlton and his wife chose Singapore for medical treatment.
Staying in Singapore more than 90 days after the end of a visa is punishable with a maximum jail term of six months and at least three cane strokes.
The Attorney General's office declined to comment on the case. A judge is to meet with lawyers from both sides in a pretrial conference Friday.
If found guilty, Charlton would be the first American citizen caned in Singapore since 1994, when teenager Michael Fay was punished for vandalism.
In Washington, U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner confirmed Charlton's detention. He told reporters the case was still in pre- trial status and was being closely monitored by the U.S. Embassy which was providing consular assistance.
Asked about caning, Toner said: "Well, we feel it's not an appropriate form of punishment. This is something we've made clear in our human rights report and also something we've conveyed to the government of Singapore in our bilateral discussions."
The Southeast Asian country boasts one of the lowest violent crime rates and highest standards of living in the world, but human rights groups often criticize the government for severe punishments, such as a mandatory death penalty for drug traffickers. Singapore also reiterated a ban on the sale of chewing gum and announced a crackdown on littering this year.
Earlier this year, Oliver Fricker of Switzerland was sentenced to five months in jail and three cane strokes for breaking into a train depot with an accomplice and spray painting subway cars. Fricker later appealed his sentence and a judge added two months to his jail term.
People who are caned are strapped to a wooden frame and lashed across the bare buttocks with a long rattan stick.
Associated Press writer Foster Klug in Washington contributed to this report.