Memory loss blamed on cash fear

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 July, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 July, 1995, 12:00am

WITNESSES in commercial dispute cases claim memory loss because they fear their businesses will suffer, legislators said.

The police witness protection scheme aimed only to protect witnesses from revenge in the form of violence, Democratic Party legislator Cheung Man-kwong said at yesterday's Legco security panel meeting.

'But those people who testify in business dispute cases will be threatened that they can no longer do business with anyone in their field. Or they could be tempted to 'lose their memory' in order to gain an advantage in business or material gains in return. And the police can do nothing but surrender in these kinds of situation,' he said.

Principal Assistant Secretary for Security, Jack Chan Jick-chi, said those who gave false evidence or used money or material benefits to persuade witnesses to give false evidence were committing an offence.

However, Mr Cheung said the Government had admitted in a document circulated to legislators that the offences were often difficult to prove.

A person cannot be convicted of perjury on the evidence of a single witness.

Mr Chan said the Government would look into how to overcome such difficulties.

There have been three cases in the High Court where defendants were acquitted because the prosecution witnesses either suffered a lapse of memory or gave evidence contradicting earlier statements, and 27 such cases in the District Court.

Mr Chan did not think the numbers were high.

In May, five witnesses claimed they had suffered memory loss, leading to Emperor tycoon Albert Yeung Sau-shing's acquittal on charges of intimidation and false imprisonment.