Decision on former banker's commercial sex with a minor case in late April

The defence and prosecution gave closing arguments on Thursday after a three-day trial of Swiss national Juerg Buergin, who is accused of two counts of obtaining commercial sex with a minor in the online vice ring case. District Judge Eddy Tham adjourned the case for the parties to submit further. He will give his verdict on April 30.

The 41-year-old former banker is the first of the 51 men charged to go on trial for paid sex with the 17-year-old escort.

Defence lawyer Selva K. Naidu argued that his client, a father of two, could not be guilty of the offences on Sept 29, 2010 and Jan 3, 2011 because he did not have a guilty mind at the time. He also submitted that his client had been deceived by both the pimp, Tang Boon Thiew, 39, and the minor as to her actual age, listed as 18 on the online escort agency website run by Tang. The defence sought to debunk the minor's testimony because parts of it sounded "contrived'' and should not "muster for proof beyond reasonable doubt''.

But Deputy Public Prosecutors Kavita Uthrapathy and Elizabeth Chua argued that he did not verify her age nor checked her identity card. The offence under which he is charged is an "absolute liability'', they argued.

Ms Uthrapathy said the minor, who is now 20, had given clear and credible evidence that she did have sex with Buergin, who was one of the three Caucasians she had provided sex to. He had paid her $600 and $650 on those two occasions at luxury hotels.

On the other hand, she said Buergin's evidence was "inconsistent, self-serving and even incredulous at certain points''.

If convicted, Buergin can be jailed for up to seven years and/or fined on each charge.

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