SINGAPORE, April 10 – A Singapore court on Wednesday refused to grant bail to three Lebanese football referees accused of accepting free sex from a gambling-linked international syndicate to rig a match.
District judge Kamala Ponnampalam agreed with state prosecutors that there was a risk referee Ali Sabbagh and his fellow Lebanese assistants Ali Eid and Abdallah Taleb would flee the country if granted provisional liberty.
The referees’ lawyer Gary Low told the court they will be pleading not guilty to the charges.
A Singaporean businessman who allegedly supplied the prostitutes was granted bail on Tuesday by the same judge.
“Having considered the submissions of parties, in particular that of the prosecution, I agree that in light of the recent trend where accused in match fixing scandals have fled, most recently in 2012… that no bail is to be granted,” the judge said.
The three Lebanese men have been charged with corruption for allegedly accepting sexual bribes in exchange for agreeing to fix an AFC Cup match on April 3 between Singapore-based club Tampines Rovers and India’s East Bengal.
They were abruptly pulled out before the match began and are now being held in remand at the suburban Changi Prison.
The judge on Tuesday granted bail to businessman Eric Ding Si Yang, who allegedly supplied women to the referees, despite opposition from state prosecutors who linked him to international syndicates manipulating football.
Ding, who is facing three counts of corruption, was freed after posting bail of Sg$150,000 ($121,000).
Singapore has a long history of match fixing, and syndicates from the wealthy Southeast Asian island have been blamed by European police for orchestrating an international network responsible for rigging hundreds of games worldwide.
If convicted, Ding and the Lebanese face a maximum prison term of five years or a fine of up to Sg$100,000 ($81,000), or both, for each count of corruption.