Matchfixing trial: Judge to decide at 3pm on admission of statements by absent linesmen

Eric Ding Si Yang (left) and his Lawyer Hamidul Haq (right) leaving the court on Aug 29, 2013. District Judge Toh Yung Cheong is expected to deliver his verdict whether four statements made by two deported Lebanese linesmen can be admitted as court e
Eric Ding Si Yang (left) and his Lawyer Hamidul Haq (right) leaving the court on Aug 29, 2013. District Judge Toh Yung Cheong is expected to deliver his verdict whether four statements made by two deported Lebanese linesmen can be admitted as court evidence in spite of their absence at 3pm on Thursday. They were deported after serving sentences for accepting sexual favours from prostitutes arranged by Ding who is on trial for corruption. -- ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW 

District Judge Toh Yung Cheong is expected to deliver his verdict whether four statements made by two deported Lebanese linesmen can be admitted as court evidence in spite of their absence at 3pm on Thursday.

This marks the close of an ancillary hearing as parties crossed swords over the statements by Abdallah Taleb, 37, and Ali Eid, 33. They were deported after serving sentences for accepting sexual favours from prostitutes arranged by alleged match-fixer Eric Ding Si Yang, 31, who is on trial for corruption. The prosecution had argued on Wednesday that "reasonable efforts" have been made, which defence counsel Thong Chee Kun impugned as "feeble".

In the morning session, Mr Thong highlighted how more could have been done, such as by engaging interpreters to explain in Arabic the importance for them to testify, given their poor command of English. An application for a bond for them to remain in Singapore could also have been made. He said: "If they succeed here I can imagine numerous cases going forward that the prosecution will use critical statements of primary and key witnesses after giving some very weak evidence of their unavailability in order to strength its case."

But Deputy Public Prosecutor Alan Loh explained there was "no time" to secure the witnesses prior to departure, because they were deported one day after their sentencing in June - their three-month jail term was backdated, and they were released for good behaviour. "There was no means for the prosecution to secure their attendance. Nothing could have been done to force them to come back... We have looked at everything," he said.

Ding faces three counts of bribing three Fifa-accredited officials to induce them into fixing a future match. Referee Ali Sabbagh, 34, had testified against him last month while serving his six-month jail term. He has been released for good behaviour and deported.