Prosecutors 'cherry-pick evidence'

Defence lawyers acting for alleged match-fixer Eric Ding Si Yang had harsh words for the prosecution yesterday.

Launching into a laundry list of supposed failures by prosecutors, the defence accused them of "cherry-picking" evidence.

The 32-year-old former freelance football tipster with The New Paper (TNP) is accused of bribing three Lebanese match officials last year by offering sex with prostitutes in return for fixing an undetermined future match.

The trio were in Singapore to officiate an Asian Football Confederation (AFC) match. They have been deported after serving time here for accepting bribes.

On Monday, Ding chose not to give evidence despite the court ruling there was enough evidence to proceed with the trial. His silence means that adverse inferences can be drawn against him.

However, his lawyer Hamidul Haq yesterday insisted there is no need for Ding to testify as there were "too many gaping holes" in the prosecution's case. "It is not for Ding to help the prosecution prove its case or to close gaps in it through speculative cross-examination premised on inferences the prosecution chooses to draw."

He further argued that several of Ding's former colleagues, testifying as prosecution witnesses, have "already independently set out the key facts of Ding's defence". The defence claims that Ding is a freelance journalist doing research on match-fixing with the intention of writing a book.

Mr Haq said it is "too fantastic a notion (that) Ding was a double agent taking part in match-fixing and at the same time working with the press to potentially combat and expose such syndicates".

Sole defence witness Jegathesan Rajagopal, TNP sports editor from 2000 to 2010, said he once asked Ding if he knew any sources with information about match-fixing for a story in 2009.

Ding provided brief information but no names of anyone in Singapore match-fixing syndicates, the court heard.

Mr Jegathesan said he did not know what Ding was up to at the time of the alleged offences. TNP editor Dominic Nathan previously testified that he never asked Ding to work on match-fixing stories.

Mr Haq pointed out yesterday that none of the hostesses have admitted to being hired for sex with the officials and that no contact was ever made between Ding and their mamasan. The court had previously heard arrangements were made through two other intermediaries including Dan Tan Seet Eng - described by Interpol as "the leader of the world's most notorious match-fixing syndicate".

The defence wrapped up its case yesterday. The prosecution is applying to call two more witnesses - the chairman of the AFC disciplinary board and the investigating officer from the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau.

The judge will deliver his verdict on July 1.

This article was published on April 11 in The Straits Times.

Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.

Purchase this article for republication.

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