Ex-doctor linked to HIV data leak admits to charge under OSA, gets more jail time for not giving urine sample

Ler Teck Siang has been sentenced to an additional 10 months' jail.
Ler Teck Siang has been sentenced to an additional 10 months' jail.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The former doctor who was embroiled in the HIV registry data leak last year has been sentenced to an additional 10 months' jail for failing to provide narcotics officers with his urine sample.

Ler Teck Siang, 39, also admitted to a charge under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) for failing to retain possession of the information relating to the HIV registry.

This charge was taken into consideration during the latest sentencing on Monday (Dec 21), which marks the end of criminal proceedings against Ler, should there be no further appeals.

Ler, a former head of the National Public Health Unit, had refused to provide his urine specimen to narcotics officers after he was arrested with a drug abuser at the Conrad Centennial hotel on March 2, 2018, the district court had found.

He was found guilty of injecting drug into abusers for a fee and for possessing drug utensils. Ler was sentenced to 15 months' jail for these crimes. This is on top of his two-year sentence for helping his HIV-positive former partner, American Mikhy Farrera-Brochez, dupe authorities into issuing him a work pass.

Ler, who was struck off the medical register earlier this year, had claimed trial for all his charges except for the charge relating to the OSA.

In the latest trial, Ler, who represented himself, claimed that he did not believe the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) officers were giving him a "legal order" to provide the urine sample. He also alleged that the officers did not give him a time frame for providing the sample and did not instruct him how much urine he should provide, nor told him into which receptacle to do so.

Ler charged that he could have "just produced a drop of urine" in his pants and that "would have been providing urine."

On Monday, District Judge Carol Ling said that whether Ler refused to give a urine specimen or had failed to give one, the fact remains that no urine sample was produced to the CNB officers.

She added that his allegations in the trial were just afterthoughts.

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Lu Yiwei asked for 10 months' jail, noting that Ler had "outrightly defied" the authority of the CNB officers.

He had also claimed trial to the charge despite not having any excuse to, and had concocted "creative excuses" for his failure to provide a urine specimen, said DPP Lu.

Details of 14,200 HIV-positive patients were leaked online by Farrera-Brochez in the HIV registry scandal.

Farrera-Brochez was sentenced to two years' jail by an American court for using the stolen HIV database to extort from the Singapore Government.