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HIV data breach scandal—Mikhy Farrera Brochez’ lawyer resigns from case, trial delayed

The lawyer stated that he believed he could no longer represent his client in an "ethical, competent and professional manner,” resulting in a delay in the progress of Mr Brochez’ case

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Singapore — The lawyer for the American at the center of the HIV data leak has resigned, due to “serious, persistent and irreconcilable differences” between himself and his client, .

Since February Mr Brochez has been in custody in the Fayette County Detention Centre in Kentucky, US, having been accused of stealing the data of over 14,000 HIV-positive individuals in Singapore, which the public found out about when news broke out in January of this year.

Mr Brochez who worked in Singapore as a lecturer in a polytechnic, had illegally obtained access to the database through his husband, Ler Teck Sian, a Singaporean doctor who used to be employed by the Ministry of Health.

The American served a year-long jail sentence from 2017 to 2018 for having falsified his HIV status so that he could work in the country, and was deported in April 2018.

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Dr Ler has been detained in Singapore since he was convicted of falsifying the results of Mr Brochez’ HIV blood tests by using his own blood samples in order to obtain employment for his husband in 2008 and 2013.

He was convicted of abetting his husband with the purpose of cheating the Ministry of Manpower about Brochez’ HIV-positive status, and for lying to the police and the Ministry of Health. Though Dr Ler had applied for an appeal in March, this was dismissed.

Mr Brochez’ trial in the US was to have started on May 7 but has now been delayed due to the resignation from the case of attorney John Oakley, who stated that his client had “false accusations regarding promises and assurances” by both Mr Oakley and by the United States.

Court documents also show that he had said to his attorney that he was “not satisfied” with Mr Oakley’s “advice and services.”

Because of this, the lawyer stated that he believed he could no longer represent his client in an “ethical, competent and professional manner,” resulting in a delay in the progress of Mr Brochez’ case, as he would have had a pre-trial conference in Kentucky, USA, while his jury trial would have started on May 7.

To replace Mr Oakley, another lawyer, Adele Brown, was appointed to represent Mr Brochez in court. However, as Ms Brown stated that she needed additional time for preparations for his trial, an extension was given for the case.

In March, US courts had ordered Mr Brochez to turn over the confidential data and all other pertinent information to Singaporean authorities, as well as take down all online posts that had to do with the leaked data.

Mr Brochez reportedly sent the links to the medical database containing the information of HIV-positive individuals in Singapore to a number of media outlets from June 2018 through January 2019.

On February 16 of this year, the American also sent to media outlets and Singaporean authorities a list which contained the NRIC numbers of 13 HIV-positive people, threatening to release more information and names of HIV-positive individuals should his husband not be released from jail.

Mr Brochez’ new trial has been set for June 3 in Lexington, Kentucky.

If he is found guilty, he could go to jail for two years for every email with leaked data that he sent, as well as up to five years for the possession of personal information with intent to commit unlawful activity. / TISG

Read related: Appeal of Ler Teck Siang, Mikhy Brochez’ partner in the HIV data leak scandal, denied in High Court

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