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Smuggling Trial To Go On Without Suspect

Chandra Wong – Updated on Jun 13, 2008 – SCMP

A district court judge presiding over a HK$50 million cigarette-smuggling case has decided to go ahead with the trial of two co-defendants even though a third, the former chairman of a tobacco manufacturer, has absconded.

District Court Judge Joseph Yau Chi-lap yesterday exercised his discretion to resume the trial, which started last October, without the presence of Lu Dayong, 60, former chairman of Nanyang Brothers Tobacco Company.

The judge issued an arrest warrant for Lu and confiscated his HK$3 million bail on Tuesday after he failed to appear for a hearing.

The judge also refused a request to either step down from the trial or hold a separate trial for the co-defendants, Lu’s girlfriend Ko Kit, 39, director of Hang Chun Trade Development, and Chan Kai-san, 40, sales manager of the same firm.

Cheng Huan SC, for Ko and Chan, said his clients had prepared their case on the understanding that Lu would call expert witnesses to counter the government forensics accountants’ findings concerning Lu’s bank accounts. The judge said Lu’s disappearance would not influence his handling of the case.

Ko and Chan are free on bail of HK$700,000 and HK$500,000, respectively.

Lu and Ko have pleaded not guilty to a joint charge of conspiracy to arrange for Lu to accept an advantage. Lu, Ko and Chan have pleaded not guilty to joint charges of conspiracy to defraud, and conspiring to arrange for Lu to accept an advantage.

The case involves Hang Chun’s suspected involvement in the illegal smuggling of Double Happiness cigarettes to the mainland.

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