SINGAPORE: Matchfix mastermind Dan Tan Dan Tan Seet Eng is a free man after winning a Court of Appeal ruling in Singapore.

The 51-year-old has been detained in prison since October 2013 under the Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act, which allows the Minister of Home Affairs to order the detention of suspected criminals without trial. The orders are up to a year and reviewed annually.

Tan challenged his continued detention and the Court of Appeal has now ruled his detention was unlawful.

Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, delivering the decision of the three-judge court, noted that the raison d’etre of the Act is the protection of public safety, peace and good order in Singapore. But the grounds given for Tan’s detention – fixing football matches in countries including Egypt, South Africa, Nigeria and Turkey – set out few connections with Singapore.

The judge said: “While these acts are reprehensible and should not be condoned, there is nothing to suggest whether, or how, these activities could be thought to have a bearing on the public safety, peace and good order within Singapore.

“The matches fixed, whether or not successfully, all took place beyond our shores.”

CJ Menon said the court was unable to see how the grounds put forward for Tan’s detention can be said to fall within the scope of the circumstances in which the power to detain under the Act may be exercised by the Minister.

Tan’s lawyer Hamidul Haq said: “My client is relieved and grateful to the court for having come to this fair conclusion.”

Tan was alleged to be the leader of a Singapore-based match-fixing syndicate.

In December 2011, he was named for allegedly masterminding fixed matches in Italy’s Serie A and Serie B. He was also charged in absentia by a Hungarian court in May 2013 for his alleged role in fixing matches there.

In September 2013, Tan and 13 others were arrested by the Singapore authorities. He was then put under detention without trial.