SINGAPORE - Businessman Dan Tan Seet Eng, named by Interpol as "the leader of the world's most notorious match-fixing syndicate", was freed from detention by the Court of Appeal on Wednesday (Nov 25).
The 51-year-old has been detained in prison since October 2013 under the Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act, which allows the Minister of Home Affairs (MHA) to order the detention of suspected criminals without trial. The orders are up to a year and reviewed annually.
Tan, represented by Mr Hamidul Haq and Mr Thong Chee Kun, had challenged his continued detention.
On Wednesday, the Court of Appeal ruled that his detention was unlawful.
In a statement later on Wednesday, MHA said,: "We will carefully consider what needs to be done in the current situation. The Ministry of Home Affairs will study the judgment carefully and assess further steps."
Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, delivering the decision of the three-judge court, noted that the raison d'etre of the Act is the protection of public safety, peace and good order in Singapore.
But the grounds given for Tan's detention - fixing football matches in countries including Egypt, South Africa, Nigeria and Turkey - set out few connections with Singapore.
"While... these acts are reprehensible and should not be condoned, there is nothing to suggest whether, or how, these activities could be thought to have a bearing on the public safety, peace and good order within Singapore," he said.
"The matches fixed, whether or not successfully, all took place beyond our shores."
CJ Menon said the court was unable to see how the grounds put forward for Tan's detention can be said to fall within the scope of the circumstances in which the power to detain under the Act may be exercised by the Minister.
Tan's lawyer, Mr Haq, told The Straits Times: "My client is relieved and grateful to the court for having come to this fair conclusion."
Tan was seen talking with his lawyers, seated at cafe inside the Supreme Court building. He made a phone call and had a Coca-cola. His lawyer said Tan has not had an aerated drink for two years.
Tan was alleged to be the leader of a Singapore-based match-fixing syndicate.
In December 2011, he was named for allegedly masterminding fixed matches in Italy's Serie A and Serie B. He was also charged in absentia by a Hungarian court in May 2013 for his alleged role in fixing matches there.
In September 2013, Tan and 13 others were arrested by the Singapore authorities. He was then put under detention without trial.