Alleged match-fixer Eric Ding chooses to remain silent in his corruption trial

Eric Ding Si Yang, a 32-year-old former freelance football tipster with The New Paper, is accused of bribing three Lebanese match officials with sex with prostitutes while the men were in Singapore last April to officiate an Asian Football Confederat
Eric Ding Si Yang, a 32-year-old former freelance football tipster with The New Paper, is accused of bribing three Lebanese match officials with sex with prostitutes while the men were in Singapore last April to officiate an Asian Football Confederation match. -- ST FILE PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

Alleged match-fixer Eric Ding Si Yang chose not to give evidence in his own defence, as his long-running corruption trial resumed on Monday.

He did so even though District Judge Toh Yung Cheong had ruled in March that the prosecution had established a prima facie case, which meant there was enough evidence to proceed with the trial. Without his testimony, the court may draw an adverse inference against Ding.

The 32-year-old former freelance football tipster with The New Paper (TNP), published by Singapore Press Holdings (SPH), is accused of bribing three Lebanese match officials with sex with prostitutes while the men were in Singapore last April to officiate an Asian Football Confederation (AFC) match. The three men - referee Ali Sabbagh, 35, and linesmen Abdallah Taleb, 38, and Ali Eid, 34 - have been deported after serving jail time here for accepting bribes.

Ding's lawyers, Mr Hamidul Haq and Mr Thong Chee Kun, intended to call two defence witnesses, namely Lebanese lawyer Ayman Malek Fakih, who presided over statements made by the linesmen , and TNP special projects editor Jegathesan Rajagopal.

On the 23rd day of the trial on Monday, parties squabbled over the defence witness list. This, after the court heard that Mr Ayman's attendance in court to verify the authenticity of the statements could not be secured as his visa application had been rejected, and that a court subpoena had not been issued to Mr Jegathesan.

Deputy public prosecutor Alan Loh urged the court "not to delay the proceedings" after the defence requested to adjourn the matter to end-April, to which Mr Thong refuted that it was a "very serious allegation against us" that had "no basis".

Referring to Mr Jegathesan, Mr Thong also said that he found it "quite disturbing" that the prosecution was "more aware of the witness' position and of SPH's position than us". He added: "The AGC (Attorney-General's Chambers) is very active indeed in checking the status of our witnesses."

The defence had not done due diligence, said Mr Loh, adding that the AGC had to verify certain facts about Mr Ayman. He said: "My point is that it is not for us to verify anything. We are the AGC. My learned friends actually were alleging something that amounts to a criminal offence."

The trial is expected to resume on Tuesday with Mr Jegathesan taking the stand. If convicted, Ding faces a maximum penalty of a $100,000 fine and a five-year jail term.

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