Ex-UBS executive to be tried in online vice ring case

One of the 51 men charged last year with having commercial sex with a minor in the online vice ring case will go on trial in March.

Swiss national Juerg Buergin, 51, a former UBS executive, is claiming trial to two charges of paying $600 and $650 for the sexual services of a 17-year-old girl in 2010 and 2011 respectively. The case has been fixed for hearing in a district court from March 19.

His lawyer, Mr Selva K. Naidu, told reporters on Wednesday the main issue in this case would be whether mens rea - a guilty mind - is required to constitute the offence.

"In this case, it will be argued that mens rea is required. The accused must have known that the girl was underage in order for him to be guilty of this offence,'' he said.

Mr Naidu said that previous cases where people have pleaded guilty to this sort of charge have been on the assumption that mens rea is not required, and they will be guilty even if they did not know that the girl was underage.

So far, 18 men have been sentenced to between eight and 16 weeks' jail for having paid sex with the girl.

The pimp, Tang Boon Thiew, 39, who operated the website offering escort services, is appealing against his sentence of 58 months' jail and $90,000 fine on multiple vice-related charges.

The 18th man, ex-financial planner Kenny Sim Choon Wee, 39, is also appealing against his eight-week sentence.

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