Dan Tan Seet Eng, named by prosecutors as the chief of an international match-fixing gang, challenged his detention without trial in Singapore.
Tan is seeking a court order against the Home Affairs Minister and a superintendent of the maximum security Changi Prison Complex for a review of his detention, according to papers filed last month with the Singapore High Court.
Singapore remanded Tan and three others over alleged match-fixing offenses in October 2013, using powers that allow some suspects to be detained without trial. It’s the first time the law, introduced 59 years ago to deal with threats posed by communism and secret societies, has been used for suspected match-riggers.
“An application for a review of a detention order has been received,” the Home Affairs Ministry said in an e-mailed statement. “The application is now being processed by the Attorney General’s Chambers.”
Hamidul Haq, Tan’s lawyer, said his detention should be reviewed by the courts.
Tan has been identified by Italian authorities and Singapore prosecutors as the head of a match-fixing syndicate. The group was responsible for fixing or attempting to rig 680 games from 2008 to 2011, European police body Europol said last year.
“I could only speculate that the government wanted to take some action and was also under some international pressure to act,” opposition lawmaker Sylvia Lim said in parliament Nov. 11. Lim asked about the justifications for detaining the suspects rather than prosecuting them through the courts.
The detention powers are used as a “last resort” where accomplices and witnesses dare not testify in court for fear of reprisal, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean replied.
Lawmakers in November agreed to extend the criminal provision for another five years, renewing it for a 13th time. There were 209 detainees as of Oct. 31. The law was also used to detain the head of an unlicensed money-lending syndicate and bus drivers who staged a strike.
The government will “bring the full weight” of its laws against match-fixers, said Teo, who’s also Home Affairs Minister. Probes into match-fixing syndicates were hampered by activities which were conducted outside the city as well as sketchy information on the gangs and their members, he said.
Singapore prosecutors failed to sufficiently prove links between Tan and Ding Si Yang, who is serving a three-year jail term for supplying prostitutes to Lebanese referees to fix soccer matches. Ding is appealing his conviction.
Those convicted in the city for match-fixing face a jail term of as long as five years in jail and a fine of as much as S$100,000 (USD79,000) for each charge. Singapore’s anti-corruption agency investigated over 10 soccer-related graft cases in the last decade with at least six found guilty.
Global authorities are clamping down on match-fixing and illegal soccer betting operations, which Interpol says are often linked to corruption, human trafficking and money laundering. An Interpol-coordinated operation during the recent World Cup in Brazil saw at least 1,400 people arrested in Asia and raids on gambling dens estimated to have handled $2.2 billion in soccer bets. Bloomberg