O-level cheating trial

Tutor gave statement to cop after threats: Lawyer

Fiona Poh Min is one of three alleged accomplices accused of aiding six students taking their O-level exams in 2016.
Fiona Poh Min is one of three alleged accomplices accused of aiding six students taking their O-level exams in 2016.ST FILE PHOTO

Investigator refutes claims that accused was intimidated and gave statement involuntarily

While private tutor Fiona Poh Min was being investigated for cheating, she was "threatened and physically intimidated" by police officers, said her lawyer.

As a result, she "involuntarily" gave her statement to police investigation officer (IO) Eddie Ho after she was arrested, said lawyer Nicolas Tang yesterday. This was refuted by the officer, who said he was not aware of the claims.

Poh, 31, a tutor from Zeus Education Centre in Tampines, is one of three alleged accomplices accused of aiding six students - all Chinese nationals aged between 17 and 20 - taking their O-level exams in 2016.

She faces 27 cheating charges and one charge of instigating student Chen Yi, a Chinese national, to leave Singapore to avoid being investigated by police.

Her two alleged accomplices are the centre's principal Poh Yuan Nie, 52, who is Fiona Poh's aunt, and Chinese national Feng Riwen, 26. They each face 27 cheating charges.

Another tutor from the centre, Singaporean Tan Jia Yan, 32, had admitted in April that she sat the exam as a private candidate in order to provide to her alleged accomplices a live feed of the paper the students were sitting - with a camera phone stuck to her chest. Tan is currently out on bail of $20,000.

Meanwhile, the students smuggled concealed mobile phones, connected to the Bluetooth devices they wore under their clothes, into the exam halls. They also wore skin-coloured in-ear earphones.

Using the images beamed to them from Tan, Fiona Poh and Feng allegedly worked out the answers and, together with the principal, read out answers to the students.

This went on for five days from Oct 19, until one of the students, Chen Yi, was caught by an invigilator on Oct 24 at Tampines Secondary School.

Yesterday, lawyer Mr Tang said his client had been threatened by some of the police officers who came in contact with her after she was arrested. When asked whether he was aware of the claims made by Fiona Poh, the IO said he was not.

Some of these threats, said Mr Tang, included officers telling her to cooperate during questioning so that she would not get hit. The IO refuted the possibility of this claim.

In another instance, she was also told that if she continued to stay silent, "an accident might happen" to her aunt during investigations, added the lawyer.

In response, the IO said he was unaware of the claims as he was not present at those times.

When Mr Tang asked the IO if he was aware that Fiona Poh had "suffered from threats, inducements or promises prior to making her statement", the IO said he was not.

Mr Tang then suggested that as a result, Fiona Poh had "involuntarily" given him her statement. Mr Ho rejected the suggestion, saying that he disagreed.

The trial resumes today.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 15, 2018, with the headline 'Tutor gave statement to cop after threats: Lawyer '. Print Edition | Subscribe