A mysterious man turned up at a casual gathering in Paya Lebar and cried out: "Who is Saddam?"
"Saddam" went away to speak alone with the man but moments later, he shouted for help.
His friends found him slashed, with serious chest and head injuries.
A district judge thus described how events started in a rare judgment explaining why she acquitted two men jointly charged with attacking Saddam, 28, whose real name is Younus Hasan Ali.
The two Bangladeshis, Mr Joy Hawladar Syaful Islam, 26, and Mr Rony Gush Kamal Gush, 25, had been accused of causing the victim's injuries in the 4am attack on June 30, 2014, at a footpath in Upper Paya Lebar Road.
But District Judge Michelle Yap, after a six-day trial earlier in the year, said the victim's evidence was "most troubling", in decision grounds issued on Dec 19.
"The victim's lack of credibility was the chief reason why the prosecution's case was doomed to fail, as it had rested almost entirely on the victim's evidence to incriminate (the two accused)," she added.
Mr Rony was part of the group seated there, while Mr Joy was alleged to have been the mystery man called to attack the victim.
The prosecution submitted that before Mr Joy appeared, Mr Younus and Mr Rony had argued over two choppers that Mr Younus had taken with him.
Mr Rony, suspecting that Mr Younus wanted to beat him up, had phoned Mr Joy to come and attack the man.
The two accused, defended by lawyers S.K. Kumar and Krishna Morthy, denied blame.
Mr Rony admitted that he quarrelled with the victim but denied phoning Mr Joy, who also denied receiving any call.
Their account was supported by evidence from phone records.
They countered that Mr Younus falsely accused them because he begrudged Mr Rony's alleged relationship with his former girlfriend, who testified for the defence, and that he knew Mr Joy was Mr Rony's best friend.
The judge said Mr Younus was seriously injured but it was possible that he had framed them. The lack of independent corroborating evidence "created reasonable doubt".
The prosecution is appealing.
This article was first published on December 28, 2016. Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.