Police have begun an international hunt for a British man alleged to have spray-painted a Singapore commuter train — and who may, tantalisingly, be one of the most notorious graffiti artists in the world.
If he is tracked down authorities could finally lay their hands on one half of the shadowy McKoy Banos partnership — a duo celebrated by fans on the internet and believed to be responsible for elaborate works of graffiti on railway carriages all over Europe.
Under Singapore’s strict laws — many of them altered only slightly from the days of British colonial rule — the artist thought to be responsible for 17 years of spray-painted “tagging” of train carriages could receive several years of imprisonment and eight lashes with a 4ft (1.2 metre) rattan cane.
Yesterday police in Singapore issued an international arrest warrant for Lloyd Dane Alexander, a Briton thought to be in Hong Kong, and said that they would push for extradition wherever he turned up.
The move comes after Oliver Fricker, 33, a Swiss national alleged to have worked as Mr Alexander’s accomplice on the May 16 graffiti-painting of the Singapore train, was charged at the weekend with trespass and vandalism. He and Mr Alexander stand accused of breaking into the main Changi railway depot to deface a MTR commuter carriage with two large, brightly painted signatures reading “Mckoy Banos”.
Graffiti is commonplace in Europe but in a country that outlaws chewing gum and that has arranged humiliating punishments for litter bugs, grand-scale acts of vandalism are exceptionally rare.
Mr Fricker, who has lived in Singapore since 2008 and works as a business consultant, was released on Saturday after an unnamed source posted his bail of 100,000 Singapore dollars (£49,000). He will appear in court on June 21.
If Mr Alexander is tracked down it remains unclear whether the net will finally have tightened on the real McKoy and Banos. Little is known about the identity of McKoy, though it is believed that Banos is a British citizen who has been living in Australia. Such is Banos’s fame within the small cabal of international graffiti artists that his signature is used to advertise Ironlak, an Australian brand of spray paint.
In a recent flurry of online postings between graffiti fans some have questioned whether the Singapore train was “bombed” by the genuine Banos, or whether the man who has been charged and the man police are pursuing are no more than daring imitators.
Legal sources believe that Singapore is likely to be successful in its attempt to extradite Mr Alexander if he is caught. Although the punishment — particularly the caning — is severe many countries, including China, have extradition treaties with Singapore.
It is not the first time that the severity of Singapore’s punishment for graffiti artists has hit the global diplomatic stage. In 1994 Singapore ignored pleas for leniency by President Clinton and carried out the caning of an American teenager convicted of vandalism.
Taken from: RedAndWhiteKop
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