Match-fixing trial: Midnight phone call to Lebanese officials under court scrutiny

The defence for alleged match-fixer Eric Ding Si Yang (above) on Tuesday, Nov 5, 2013, zeroed in on the circumstances surrounding a midnight phone call received by the Lebanese officials. -- ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG
The defence for alleged match-fixer Eric Ding Si Yang (above) on Tuesday, Nov 5, 2013, zeroed in on the circumstances surrounding a midnight phone call received by the Lebanese officials. -- ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

The defence for alleged match-fixer Eric Ding Si Yang on Tuesday zeroed in on the circumstances surrounding a midnight phone call received by the Lebanese officials.

This, as lawyer Yusfiyanto Yatiman, in keeping with its strategy to poke holes in the reliability of the statements made by two linesmen, sought to question apparent lapses in protocol, possible gaps in logic in the statement recording process, and discrepancies from earlier statements.

The call was earlier established to be made by Ding to notify the officials of the prostitutes' arrival. But the court heard on Tuesday that the caller had not identified himself to them, and "lasted all of nine seconds". Mr Yusfiyanto also questioned how the linesman who had answered the call could understand what was being conveyed with his limited English ability.

Local businessman Ding, 31, is accused of bribing Lebanese linesmen Abdallah Taleb, 37, and Ali Eid, 33, and referee Ali Sabbagh, 34, with prostitutes in return for fixing a match. On Tuesday, the two statements recorded by Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) officer Daryl Ng came under court scrutiny, after they were admitted as evidence in court despite the linesmen's absence. They had 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.

The court heard that Mr Ng was tasked to record the statements from the linesmen at the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) on June 11, right before they were repatriated.

CPIB officer Frankie Lee had also sat in on the process, although his name was not recorded in the statements. When Mr Yusfiyanto questioned why this was so, Mr Ng replied that his colleague's task was to "liaise with ICA" and "set up laptops and printers", and he had "stayed inside just in case anything happened", such as the interviewees "turning violent".

The trial continues on Wednesday, with Mr Ng returning to the stand.