Doctor gets 2 years' jail for switching blood sample of HIV-positive boyfriend with his own

SINGAPORE - A Singaporean doctor who submitted his own blood sample in place of his HIV-positive boyfriend's, to help the American get an employment pass here, has been sentenced to two years' jail.

Ler Teck Siang, 36, is appealing against his conviction and sentence on two charges each for abetment of cheating and for giving a false statement to a public servant.The prosecution has also appealed against the sentence.

In September, Ler was found guilty of helping Mikhy Farrera-Brochez deceive the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) into issuing him an employment pass in March 2008 and allowing him to keep the pass in November 2013 after red flags were raised about the American's HIV status.

Ler was also found guilty of lying to a Ministry of Health (MOH) investigator in December 2013 and a police officer in January 2014, to cover up the truth when he was questioned about the second blood test.

District Judge Luke Tan's written grounds for his decision were published on Tuesday (Nov 13).

Farrera-Brochez, 33, who was a polytechnic lecturer in Singapore, was sentenced to 28 months' jail last year for offences including cheating, lying to a public servant, possessing drugs and using forged educational certificates.

He had moved to Singapore after meeting Ler online.

In March 2008, the American took an HIV test at a Singapore Anti-Tuberculosis Association (Sata) clinic using a fake Bahamian passport. He tested positive.

The prosecution's case was that the pair knew that foreigners with HIV are not allowed to work here, and so hatched a plan to obtain an employment pass .

Farrera-Brochez went to the clinic where Ler was working as a locum for a medical examination. However, the blood sample labelled with his name was actually from Ler. The sample tested negative and Farrera-Brochez was issued an employment pass.

Later, MOH determined that the positive result from the Sata clinic actually belonged to Farrera-Brochez and told MOM about this. In October 2013, MOM told Farrera-Brochez that his employment pass had to be cancelled, but he said he could prove he did not have HIV.

Using the same ruse again, a sample of Ler's blood was submitted and MOM did not cancel the employment pass.

Both the MOH and the police investigated the matter.

Ler initially maintained to the police that the blood sample was Farrera-Brochez's.

But in two statements in May 2016, he confessed that he had substituted his blood for Farrera-Brochez's.

During his trial, Ler challenged the admissibility of these statements, claiming that he had given them under duress. His various allegations were rejected by Judge Tan.

Among other things, Ler said while he was being questioned, an officer burst into the room, flung medical records on the table and shouted at him to "stop playing games" and tell them what they wanted to hear. This was refuted by the relevant officers.

The judge said he found it hard to believe Ler, who flip-flopped in his testimony regarding the identity of the officer who was allegedly hostile towards him.

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