Match-fixing trial: Accused will not testify in own defence

Match-fixing trial: Accused will not testify in own defence
Given Eric Ding Si Yang's silence, the court may draw an adverse inference against the 32-year-old.

Alleged match-fixer Eric Ding Si Yang chose not to testify in his own defence in his long-running corruption trial, which resumed yesterday for the 23rd day.

This was despite District Judge Toh Yung Cheong's finding last month that the prosecution had established a prima facie case - that is, there was enough evidence to proceed with the trial.

Given Ding's silence, the court may draw an adverse inference against the 32-year-old former freelance football tipster with The New Paper (TNP).

He is accused of bribing three Lebanese match officials by offering them sex with prostitutes in return for fixing an undetermined future match.

Referee Ali Sabbagh, 34, and linesmen Abdallah Taleb, 38, and Ali Eid, 34, were in Singapore last April to officiate an Asian Football Confederation game. They have since been deported after serving time here for accepting bribes.

Parties squabbled over the defence witness list yesterday as the trial resumed.

Ding's lawyers, Mr Hamidul Haq and Mr Thong Chee Kun, said they intended to call two witnesses - Lebanese lawyer Ayman Malek Fakih and TNP special projects editor Jegathesan Rajagopal.

Mr Ayman had recorded statements from the linesmen after they went home, which supposedly contradicted what they told the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau when they were arrested.

The defence is arguing for the statements to be admitted to prove its client's innocence, as the linesmen could not be cross-examined in court.

After their repatriation, they declined to return to Singapore to testify despite having promised to do so.

But the court heard that Mr Ayman's attendance in court to verify the statements' authenticity could not be secured because his visa application had been rejected.

The defence also told the court that it was unable to secure Mr Jegathesan's attendance.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Alan Loh said this was because the defence had not sought a court subpoena, in keeping with TNP publisher Singapore Press Holdings' request. This has now been rectified.

The trial is expected to resume on Thursday, with parties making submissions on the statements' admissibility and with Mr Jegathesan taking the stand.

If convicted, Ding could be dealt a maximum penalty of five years in jail and a $100,000 fine.

waltsim@sph.com.sg

This article was published on April 8 in The Straits Times.

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