Prison officer on trial for offences that include trying to get bribes from inmate

Senior chief warder Kobi Krishna Ayavoo is said to have instigated two of his then-colleagues to make unauthorised access to their workplace computer platform. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A prison officer is on trial for attempting to obtain bribes from an inmate in exchange for facilitating the man's request to transfer out of an area named Cluster A1 in Changi Prison.

Senior chief warder Kobi Krishna Ayavoo, who has been suspended from work since July 2017, is accused of trying to obtain cash totalling $11,000 and $70,000 in loans from Chong Keng Chye, 48.

At the opening of his trial on Wednesday (Jan 8), a district court heard that he faces eight graft charges and two charges under the Computer Misuse and Cybersecurity Act.

Kobi is said to have instigated two of his then-colleagues to make unauthorised access to their workplace computer platform, known as the Prisons Operations and Rehabilitation System (Ports), in July 2017.

One of them, Firoz Khan Shaik Fazaluddin, 43, who used to be a staff sergeant with the Singapore Prison Service, took the stand on Wednesday.

He told District Judge John Ng that Kobi called him at his workplace repeatedly over several days from July 17, 2017, asking for help.

He initially "brushed him off". Kobi finally revealed he wanted an inmate's prison number which could be obtained through Ports, the court heard.

"I didn't know who the inmate was," Firoz, who is now working as a senior storekeeper, said in reply to Deputy Public Prosecutor Magdalene Huang.

After Kobi gave him the inmate's NRIC number, he accessed Ports without authority and gave him the inmate's prison number despite knowing it was the wrong thing to do.

He added: "It's an offence. It's a confidential thing. At that point in time, I was not myself due to overwork."

The court heard that the inmate was Chong but it was not mentioned why Kobi needed Chong's prison number and what he wanted to do with it.

Chong is behind bars for one of the worst child abuse cases in Singapore. He had battered his girlfriend's seven-year-old son for more than seven months until the child died in 1999. He also abused the boy's two sisters.

In 2005, he was sentenced to 20 years of preventive detention, with nine strokes of the cane. Preventive detention, a sentence for repeat offenders, imposes the full jail term with no reduction for good behaviour.

When cross-examined by defence lawyer Rakesh Vasu, Firoz said Kobi did not urge, persuade or instigate him.

For agreeing to help Kobi by accessing the computer system without authorisation, Firoz was fined $4,000 on March 1, 2018.

On Wednesday, Firoz testified that he started working in Cluster A1 of the prison in 1997 before he resigned in 2017.

He also said that Kobi was his friend and colleague whom he had known since he was a teenager through a cousin. Kobi is out on a $10,000 bail and the trial resumes on Thursday (Jan 9).

If convicted of corruption, he can be jailed up to five years and fined a maximum of $100,000 for each charge.

For each charge under the Computer Misuse and Cybersecurity Act, first-time offenders can be jailed up to two years and fined a maximum of $5,000.

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