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Suspected match-fixer detained without trial

Singapore: A Singaporean accused of leading the world's largest football match-fixing syndicate was ordered to be detained without trial Saturday under a special law following his rearrest earlier this week, the interior ministry said.

Dan Tan, 51, will be held under a special law designed to keep suspected criminals under detention without having to charge them in court, the Ministry of Home Affairs said. "The MHA confirmed that the Minister for Home Affairs has issued a detention order in respect of Dan Tan Seet Eng on 5 December 2015 for his involvement in global soccer match-fixing," the statement said.

Tan had been held for more than two years under the same law following his arrest in September 2013 but the Court of Appeal, the country's highest court, ordered his release in late November, saying his detention had been "unlawful". The three-judge court had said that while match-fixing was "reprehensible and should not be condoned", the alleged acts "all took place beyond our shores" and had no bearing on public safety in the city-state.

His release came under heavy criticism from football's world governing body FIFA and analysts who said the move was a blow to efforts to eradicate corruption in the sport. Police, however, rearrested Tan about a week after he was freed to investigate his "suspected involvement in criminal activities".

The home affairs ministry said Saturday that the new order to detain Tan "expressly sets out the grounds which show the extent of Dan Tan's match-fixing activities from and within Singapore".

"The grounds set out the seriousness of Dan Tan's criminal activities over many years, their impact on public safety, peace and good order within Singapore, and the fact that he has intimidated witnesses to the extent that they continue to be unwilling to testify against him for fear of reprisal," the ministry said.

After Tan's first arrest in 2013, the then-Interpol chief Ronald Noble said the Singapore-based ring he allegedly led was the world's "largest and most aggressive match-fixing syndicate, with tentacles reaching every continent".

The home affairs ministry had earlier said that Singaporean law enforcement agencies began investigating Tan in 2011 "when he was repeatedly cited in Italian court papers for his involvement in transnational criminal activities in the form of match-fixing".

It described Tan as "the leader and financier of a global criminal syndicate that conducted match-fixing operations out of Singapore". The ministry said its probe "indicated that Tan had an extensive network of people under his control -- many of whom were recruited in, and directed out of Singapore".

Public trial needed
Former FIFA security chief Chris Eaton told AFP Saturday that while Singapore's latest action against Tan is proof of a commitment to help protect the sport, it is "disappointing" that it prevents a public hearing.

"A public trial brings evidence into the international public domain, which derives more purpose than mere potential consequences to Dan Tan," said Eaton, now the Qatar-based executive director for sport integrity at the International Center for Sport Security.

"It brings an awareness and alertness to the methods and connections used in committing an international conspiracy, which in its turn helps all countries and all police know how to prevent and to investigate such vulnerabilities in the future." Persistent allegations that Singapore has been a major hub for match-fixing has stained its reputation as one of the world's least corrupt nations.

Police say global match-fixing generates billions of dollars a year in revenues, fuelled in part by the popularity of online betting on match results and game statistics. Tan first came to prominence when fixer Wilson Raj Perumal, also a Singaporean, was arrested and jailed in Finland in 2011 for fixing top-tier games there. Perumal, who now assists match-fixing investigations in Hungary, had told prosecutors he was a double-crossed associate of Tan.

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