Two Lebanese soccer officials, on trial for corruption, were on Monday sentenced to three months' jail each, with a third to be sentenced on Tuesday morning. Linesmen Ali Eid, 33, and Abdallah Taleb, 37, as well as referee Ali Sabbagh, 34, had pleaded guilty on Monday, and were each convicted of one charge of accepting bribes in the form of sex with a prostitute in return for fixing a match in future.
In his sentencing of Eid and Taleb to three months jail, District Judge Low Wee Ping said: "The fact that you are international officials, in my view, is already an aggravating factor." But the judge acknowledged the "strong mitigating factor" that they had pleaded guilty. Their sentence was backdated to the date they were remanded on April 4, 2013, and they could be released "today or tomorrow" for good behaviour. The duo broke into tears of relief and smiles after the sentencing.
Sabbagh, however, will only be sentenced on Tuesday, as the judge needed more time to consider the sentencing. Deputy Public Prosecutor Asoka Markandu had, in his sentencing submissions, asked for six months jail for him - twice that of Eid and Taleb. This was because Sabbagh had served as the "conduit for the gratification" in being the contact point with the alleged matchfixer, and thus had greater culpability.
The trio was allegedly provided prostitutes by businessman Eric Ding Si Yang, 31, who is a former pundit with The New Paper, when they were in Singapore for the April 3 Asian Football Confederation Cup match between Tampines Rovers and East Bengal.
They were arrested before the match, which was not fixed. Ding faces three corruption charges, as well as one charge for obstructing police investigations. He has claimed trial for corruption, for which trial dates have yet to be set.
The penalty for corruption is a fine of up to $100,000, up to five years' jail, or both.