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SINGAPORE - Whenever the star witness stepped out of the court building or out of the car, a human wall would follow her.
With sunglasses and scowls on their faces, the message they want to send is clear - don't mess with us.
They form a perimeter around Ms Cecilia Sue, 36, and they have attracted almost as much attention as she has.
A check with local security companies revealed that they are neither bodyguards nor bouncers.
A professional bouncer who declined to be named said: "No one I know in the bouncer circles knows them."
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A director of a security company which offers bodyguard services said: "They don't look like professional bodyguards."
The trial of former Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) director Ng Boon Gay, scheduled for 18 days, started last Tuesday.
The 46-year-old faces four counts of corruptly obtaining oral sex from Ms Sue in exchange for helping her companies in their bids for contracts with CNB between July and December last year.
The following day, Ms Sue, the prosecution's star witness, took the stand.
As salacious details about her alleged relationship with Ng were revealed in court, the case became a hot topic in conservative Singapore.
Members of the public started turning up to listen first-hand to the case, so much so that they had to queue for access to the limited seats in the public gallery of the courtroom in the Subordinate Courts building.
The New Paper has learnt that the seven people shielding Ms Sue from the curious onlookers and media personnel daily are Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) officers.
Their task is to ensure that Ms Sue can enter and leave the court safely each time.
Last Wednesday, on her first day in court, Ms Sue was walking to the Toyota Corolla that has been taking her to and from the court when she got left behind by her "bodyguards" just steps away from the vehicle, because she was walking at a slower pace.
When they realised this, they went back and surrounded her again.
A day later, things got a little out of hand, when about 20 photographers and cameramen tried to get a perfect shot of Ms Sue at the steps of the court building.
A CPIB officer, a burly and towering man, was seen pushing some of them aside. As the cameras clicked away, he was heard saying: "Make way. Make way."
After Ms Sue enters the car, the man would tap its roof twice and the car would leave.
TNP understands that the officers - six men and one woman - will escort her to court as long as she is needed as a witness.
TNP also understands this is not the first time that CPIB has assigned its officers to ensure that witnesses in a court case arrive at and leave the court safely.
But criminal lawyers told TNP that having CPIB officers perform this duty was highly unusual. A few said they had not come across such an arrangement before.
Mr Kertar Singh, a former police officer with 27years' experience, who is now a lawyer with Kertar & Co, said he has never heard of or seen such an arrangement in his 18 years as a lawyer and even when he was a cop.
He said: "I have never seen a situation where witnesses have been guarded by officers provided by the enforcement agencies."
Mr Ravinderpal Singh, a lawyer with Kalco Law LLC, also said he had never come across such a situation in his 15 years' of practice.
He said: "Normally, lawyers would assume that court security personnel would handle the issues of witness security and not the individual departments concerned.
"This is a bit out of the ordinary."
Mr Rajan Supramaniam, a lawyer with Hilborne & Co, who has been in practice for 12 years, said he has never come across anything like that.
'Very unusual' Mr Rajan, a former senior prison officer, added: "It is very unusual. Why should they (CPIB officers) be giving protection? It should be the police."
The lawyers, however, said that such protection could have been provided under special circumstances.
Mr Kertar Singh said: "In cases where the witnesses have been threatened of assaulted, the agencies may provide that security coverage.
"But this is something which doesn't involve the Mafia. It is very unusual, I would say."
Mr Ravinderpal Singh agreed that such protection would be warranted if the authorities had felt there might have been threats to the witness, or if she had felt intimidated by certain things.
Online forums were also abuzz with speculation as to who the seven "bodyguards" were.
On HardwareZone, Codexboy asked: "Is it bcos she is prosecution witness so got witness protection?" Cheesetalk wrote: "Must be expensive (sic) even for one bouncer."
On SingSupplies forum, songsongjurong wrote: "The 3 men fronting Sue are cops? Bodyguard?" GoldenDragon replied: "More likely to be CPIB officers."