Match-fixing trial: Linesman 'ill while giving his statement'

CPIB officer Ms Png (left) testified that Mr Eid said he felt well when he gave his statement, which is being used as evidence against Eric Ding (above).
CPIB officer Ms Png (left) testified that Mr Eid said he felt well when he gave his statement, which is being used as evidence against Eric Ding (above).ST PHOTOS: AZIZ HUSSIN
CPIB officer Ms Png (left) testified that Mr Eid said he felt well when he gave his statement, which is being used as evidence against Eric Ding (above).
CPIB officer Ms Png (left) testified that Mr Eid said he felt well when he gave his statement, which is being used as evidence against Eric Ding (above).ST PHOTOS: AZIZ HUSSIN

Defence highlights medical episodes as signs that his statements are 'not reliable'

A Lebanese linesman may have been in ill health when he gave a statement saying he accepted sexual bribes to fix a football match, a court heard yesterday.

Mr Ali Eid, 33, had asked for painkillers and complained of numbness before the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) recorded his statement on April 4, said lawyer Yusfiyanto Yatiman, who is defending alleged match-fixer Eric Ding Si Yang, 31.

Mr Yusfiyanto said this could have contributed to the statement being "inaccurate and unreliable".

Linesmen Eid, 33, and Abdallah Taleb, 37, both pleaded guilty to match-fixing charges and were deported to Lebanon after completing three-month jail terms. Although they said they will return to testify against Ding, neither did. Their statements have been admitted as evidence.

The court heard yesterday that Mr Eid suffered two medical episodes while in the CPIB's custody.

First, he requested painkillers in the morning for an "old injury", testified CPIB officer Png Chen Chen. The next incident occurred before dinner, prompting Ms Png to grab his asthma inhaler.

"He said the room was stuffy, the air-con suddenly switched off by itself and he felt numbness in his body," said Ms Png, adding that the air-conditioner was faulty. She and an Arabic interpreter helped Mr Eid to another interview room as he was not well enough to walk on his own.

They "massaged his upper body, both his arms" to ease the numbness, Ms Png said. Mr Eid next asked for his blood pressure to be measured, but Ms Png told him he would have to be taken to hospital as the CPIB did not have the necessary equipment, the court heard. "He then requested sugar water," Ms Png said, as it was a remedy his nurse wife gave him when he had "similar problems back home".

She added that he said he felt well when he gave the statement and observed that "he appeared to be stable and his speech was coherent".

But the defence argued that Ms Png, as someone without professional medical training, had not erred on the side of caution and called for an ambulance.

After falling ill in the court's lock-up a day after giving his statement, Mr Eid was taken to hospital when he complained of stiffness in his upper limbs.

Ding's lawyers highlighted other instances that may have contributed to Mr Eid's statement being unreliable. For example, despite Mr Eid knowing little English, Ms Png had asked him to identify Ding and the prostitutes when an interpreter may not have been present.

Local businessman Ding, 31, is accused of bribing the linesmen and Lebanese referee Ali Sabbagh, 34, with prostitutes in return for fixing a match.

Mr Sabbagh testified against Ding while serving his six-month jail term, and has been deported. If convicted, Ding faces up to five years' jail, a fine of up to $100,000, or both. The trial continues today.

waltsim@sph.com.sg