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Ex-doc in HIV data-leak case gets more jail time

Ex-doc in HIV data-leak case gets more jail time

Source: Straits Times
Article Date: 22 Dec 2020
Author: Cara Wong

Ler Teck Siang claimed in his latest trial that he did not believe CNB officers were giving him a ''legal order'' to provide the urine sample. 

Ler Teck Siang, the former doctor embroiled in the HIV registry data leak last year, has been sentenced to an additional 10 months' jail for failing to provide narcotics officers with his urine sample.

The latest sentencing yesterday marked the end of criminal proceedings against Ler, 39, should there be no further appeals.

He also admitted to a charge under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) of failing to retain possession of the HIV Registry, which he had access to when he was head of the National Public Health Unit. This charge was taken into consideration yesterday.

Ler had refused to provide his urine specimen to narcotics officers after he was arrested with a drug abuser at the Conrad Centennial hotel on March 2, 2018, the district court had found.

Last year, he was sentenced to 15 months' jail on two charges - one of injecting drugs into abusers for a fee and the other of possessing drug utensils.

This was on top of his two-year sentence for helping his HIV-positive former partner, American Mikhy Farrera-Brochez, dupe the authorities into issuing him a work pass.

The former doctor, who was struck off the medical register earlier this year, had claimed trial for all his charges except for the one relating to the OSA.

In this latest trial, Ler, who represented himself, claimed that he did not believe the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) officers were giving him a "legal order" to provide the urine sample.

He also alleged that the officers did not give him a timeframe for providing the sample, tell him how much urine he should produce, nor give him a receptacle to do so. Ler said that he could have "just produced a drop of urine" in his pants and that "would have been providing urine".

Yesterday, District Judge Carol Ling said that whether Ler refused to give a urine specimen or had failed to give one, the fact remains that no urine sample was produced to the CNB officers.

She added that his allegations in the trial were just afterthoughts.

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Lu Yiwei asked for 10 months' jail, noting that Ler had "outrightly defied" the authorities.

He had also claimed trial to the charge despite not having any excuse to, and had concocted "creative excuses" for his failure to provide a urine specimen, said DPP Lu.

Details of 14,200 HIV-positive patients were leaked online by Farrera-Brochez in the HIV registry scandal. He was last year sentenced to two years' jail by an American court for using the stolen HIV database to extort from the Singapore Government.

Found guilty of multiple offences

Ler Teck Siang helped Mikhy Farrera-Brochez test negative for HIV in 2008 and 2013 by allowing his own blood test results to be used instead. Ler also made false statements to public officials about the fake test results.

Result: Two years' jail

Ler injected a drug abuser with an illegal substance for a fee. He also had drug paraphernalia on his person when he was caught on March 2, 2018.

Result: 15 months' jail

Ler repeatedly refused to provide a urine sample to narcotics officers following his arrest.

Result: 10 months' jail

Ler admitted yesterday that he had failed to take reasonable care of the HIV registry information.

Result: This was taken into consideration during yesterday's sentencing.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.


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