Match-fixing trial: Defence points out discrepancies

The defence in the sex-for-match-fixing trial on Tuesday again contested the accuracy of the statements made by two Lebanese assistant referees to the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB).

Mr Abdallah Taleb and Mr Ali Eid had previously pleaded guilty to accepting sexual favours, allegedly from businessman Eric Ding, to fix matches.

Ding is now on trial for allegedly bribing the two assistant referees and referee Ali Sabbagh.

His lawyer, Mr Yusfiyanto Yatiman, pointed out discrepancies between their CPIB statements on the day of the arrest and their later statements just before they were repatriated.

CPIB officer Daryl Ng, who took the stand on Tuesday, had earlier said that the later statements were to clarify the sequence of events leading up to the officials' arrest on April 3.

Mr Yusfiyanto said Mr Eid had said in his earlier statement that he had met Ding, whom he knew as "James", in a cafe. But in his later statement, he said they met in both the cafe and the hotel lobby.

Mr Ng replied: "The cafe and lobby were just side by side. The understanding here is that they met and they left."

Mr Yusfiyanto said Mr Taleb had also said earlier that he met Ding in a cafe. But in his later statement, he said he met him in a hotel lounge.

Mr Ng agreed.

DISCREPANCIES

The lawyer also pointed out discrepancies between Mr Taleb and Mr Eid's later statements.

For instance, Mr Taleb mentioned a conversation with the hotel receptionist about taking women up to his room. This was absent in Mr Eid's account.

He told Mr Ng that the inconsistencies could mean that Mr Taleb and Mr Eid "may not be telling you the truth in the further statements".

"Alternatively, the further statements may not have been accurately recorded," he said.

Mr Ng agreed.

Other than clarifying the sequence of events leading up to the Lebanese officials' arrest, Mr Ng said he was asked to find out more about a phone call allegedly from Ding to inform them of the prostitutes' arrival at the hotel.

Mr Yusfiyanto argued that the caller's identity was never revealed in the nine-second phone call.

He said that Mr Taleb, who picked up the call, "did not quite understand what was being said to him in the phone call".

When Mr Ng said Mr Taleb "understood a little", Mr Yusfiyanto asked: "Which means a little of a whole, correct?"

Mr Ng replied: "Could be."

The trial continued on Wednesday.

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