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Senior prison warden on trial for seeking bribe from inmate in return for prison transfer

SINGAPORE — A senior prison officer accused of offering an inmate a transfer out of his prison cluster in return for more than S$80,000 took to court to contest the charges on Wednesday (Jan 8).

The entrance gate of Changi Prison.

The entrance gate of Changi Prison.

SINGAPORE — A senior prison officer accused of offering an inmate a transfer out of his prison cluster in return for more than S$80,000 took to court to contest the charges on Wednesday (Jan 8).

Singapore Prison Service (SPS) senior chief warder Kobi Krishna Ayavoo, 53, faces 10 charges, mostly of attempting to get bribes from an inmate Chong Keng Chye, in exchange for a transfer out of Changi Prison Cluster A1.

He allegedly asked Chong for loans of S$70,000 in total and cash of S$11,000 between September 2015 and March 2016 in return for the favour.

Mr Kobi is also accused of instigating two SPS colleagues to illegally access information in the prison's computer system.

The trial opened on Wednesday focusing on these Computer Misuse and Cybersecurity Act charges.

After being charged in 2017 with corruption offences involving the inmate Chong, Mr Kobi allegedly approached Staff Sergeant Firoz Khan Shaik Fazaluddin to help him access Chong's data in the Prisons Operations and Rehabilitation System (PORTS).

The system logs inmate movements, transfers and inmate particulars.

Mr Firoz, who was fined S$4,000 in 2018 for his role in the offences, took the witness stand for the prosecution and told the court that he had heard about Mr Kobi's case on the news, but did not know the details.

Mr Kobi did not have access to PORTS after his suspension in 2017, said Mr Firoz, who is no longer a staff sergeant.

Mr Firoz had known Mr Kobi through his cousin, since Mr Firoz was 16 or 17.

In July and August 2017, Mr Kobi called Mr Firoz three times, asking for help to get inmate particulars.

Mr Firoz brushed them off, but gave in on the third call. He said Mr Kobi gave him an NRIC number and asked him to retrieve an inmate prison number from PORTS.

He did so, and accessed a profile of a Chinese man whose name he cannot remember.

However, Mr Kobi's defence lawyer Rakesh Pokkan Vasu said Mr Kobi had given Mr Firoz an inmate number instead, and asked him to check the system for the inmate's birth date.

Mr Firoz said he was "really not sure".

Mr Rakesh said Mr Kobi had made those calls to Mr Firoz as he wanted the latter's help to clear out his locker.

Earlier in the day, an officer with the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau told the court that he had recorded statements from Mr Kobi.

He said Mr Kobi claimed that Chong had colluded with another inmate to "fix him up".

The trial continues on Thursday, with Chong taking the stand.

If found guilty, Mr Kobi faces a maximum five years' jail term, a fine of up to S$100,000, or both for each corruption charge.

He could get up to two years' jail, a fine of S$5,000, or both for his computer misuse charges. CNA

For more stories like this, visit cna.asia

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