Magistrate to decide on Tony Chan's challenge
Eastern Court will decide on Monday whether it will continue hearing self-styled fung shui master Tony Chan Chun-chuen's application to halt criminal proceedings against him.
In a preliminary hearing yesterday, acting Principal Magistrate David Dufton heard arguments from both sides as to whether the court had the power to stay proceedings and exclude evidence in the case against Chan, who is charged with forgery and use of a fake will purportedly created by late businesswoman Nina Wang Kung Yu-sum.
The will was at the centre of a probate hearing with the Chinachem Charitable Foundation over her estimated HK$50 billion estate.
Chan's lawyer, Alan Hoo SC, told the court that the defendant would be deprived of a fair trial, as forensic tests on the allegedly forged will had destroyed the DNA traces and fingerprints on it.
Hoo also asked the court to not consider as evidence the forged will, its draft and a Peking University envelope seized from Chan. '[It's] no longer the same document,' he said.
It was unfair to Chan, as he was not invited to witness the test done by the plaintiff in the legal fight for Wang's estate, he said, and urged the court to exclude evidence from the two scientists who did the test.
The magistrate's court had sufficient experience and was competent enough to rule a stay, he said.
Prosecutor David Perry, a British QC, argued that whether the proceedings were fair or not should be handled by the trial judge in the High Court, as the role of the magistrate's court in a preliminary hearing should only be to ensure the trial would be conducted efficiently. The proceedings should be halted only if the integrity of the magistrate's court would be jeopardised, Perry said.
He also said the scientists were 'independent and impartial', so their evidence should be considered. The plaintiff was not obliged to consult Chan before carrying out the tests, he said.
A number of previous cases from Britain and Hong Kong were cited in the hearing yesterday, and the court spent most of the afternoon discussing legal principles, which apparently did not interest Chan, who dozed off several times.
Wang died of cancer in April 2007, aged 69. Her death sparked a lengthy fight over her estate. The Court of Final Appeal ruled in April last year that a 2006 document - which Chan said was Wang's will leaving him her entire fortune - was a forgery.