Friday, October 23, 2020

Prison officer faces bribery allegations involving prison inmate

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A prison officer is on trial for allegedly attempting to obtain bribes from an inmate in exchange for facilitating the man’s request to transfer out of an area named Cluster A1 in Changi Prison.

Senior chief warder Kobi Krishna Ayavoo, who has been suspended from work since July 2017, is accused of trying to obtain cash totalling $11,000 and $70,000 in loans from Chong Keng Chye, 48.

At the opening of his trial yesterday, a district court heard that he faces eight graft charges and two charges under the Computer Misuse and Cybersecurity Act.

Kobi is said to have instigated two of his then colleagues to gain unauthorised access to their workplace computer platform, known as the Prisons Operations and Rehabilitation System (Ports), in July 2017.

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One of them, Mr Firoz Khan Shaik Fazaluddin, 43, who was a staff sergeant with the Singapore Prison Service, took the stand yesterday.

He told District Judge John Ng that Kobi called him at his workplace repeatedly over several days from July 17 that year, asking for help. He said he initially “brushed him off”.

Kobi finally revealed he wanted an inmate’s prison number which could be obtained through Ports.

“I didn’t know who the inmate was,” Mr Firoz, who is now working as a senior storekeeper, said in reply to Deputy Public Prosecutor Magdalene Huang.

He also said that after Kobi gave him the inmate’s NRIC number, he accessed Ports without authority and gave him the inmate’s prison number despite knowing it was wrong to do so. “It’s an offence. It’s a confidential thing. At that point in time, I was not myself due to overwork,” he added.

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The court heard that the inmate was Chong but it was not mentioned why Kobi needed his prison number and what he wanted to do with it.

Chong is behind bars for one of the worst child abuse cases in Singapore. He had battered his girlfriend’s seven-year-old son over a period of more than seven months until the child died in 1999. He also abused the boy’s two sisters.

In 2005, he was given 20 years of preventive detention, with nine strokes of the cane. Preventive detention is for repeat offenders, who will serve the full jail term with no reduction for good behaviour.

When cross-examined by defence lawyer Rakesh Vasu, Mr Firoz said Kobi did not urge, persuade or instigate him. For agreeing to help Kobi by accessing the computer system without authorisation, he was fined $4,000 on March 1, 2018.

Yesterday, Mr Firoz testified that he started working in Cluster A1 in 1997 before he resigned in 2017.

Kobi was a friend and colleague whom he had known since he was a teenager, he added.

Kobi is out on bail of $10,000 and the trial resumes today.

If convicted of corruption, he can be jailed for up to five years and be fined a maximum of $100,000 on each charge. For each charge under the Computer Misuse and Cybersecurity Act, first-time offenders can be jailed for up to two years and be fined a maximum of $5,000.

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