Two Lebanese match officials jailed in Singapore for accepting free sex from an alleged match-fixer have refused to return to the city-state to testify at his trial, a court heard Tuesday.
Assistant referees Ali Eid, 33, and Abdallah Taleb, 37, were deported in June after serving three-month prison sentences for accepting the services of a prostitute as a bribe from Singaporean nightclub owner Eric Ding Si Yang.
Another Lebanese national, referee Ali Sabbagh, testified for the prosecution last month while he was still in Singapore serving a six-month jail term.
Tan Kian Tat Jeffrey, an investigator from the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB), told the court that Ali Eid and Abdallah Taleb had communicated to him through the Lebanese Football Association and a Lebanese diplomat in Singapore their unwillingness to return to testify.
State prosecutors had earlier said they hoped they could get the Lebanese pair to appear in court.
“Each of them say they have made clear and detailed statements on their involvement with Ding Si Yang and have nothing to add to the statement which can assist the prosecution in the trial,” Tan said.
Ding’s lawyer Hamidul Haq told the court he would “vehemently” object to the admission of the written statements as evidence as “we don’t have the right to cross-examine them”.
The trial was abruptly adjourned Tuesday to allow Ding’s lawyers to prepare for an “ancillary hearing” on the admissibility of the written statements.
Ding, 31, is accused of “corruptly giving gratification” to the three Lebanese football officials as an inducement to fix football matches that they would officiate in the future.
He faces a maximum prison term of five years and fines of up to Sg$100,000 (US$80,000) for each of the three charges — all of which he has denied.
He separately faces two charges of stealing evidence and obstructing police investigations after he declined to disclose the password to his laptop computer.
The case is a colourful addition to Singapore’s long history of match-fixing scandals, including allegations that syndicates in the wealthy city-state organised the rigging of hundreds of games worldwide.