Film director's detention questioned

PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 December, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 29 December, 1995, 12:00am

HONG KONG is to seek urgent clarification from China on whether a local film director is being legally detained.

A Security Branch spokesman said the Government would use its diplomatic muscle to investigate the case of Au Fook-hung, 32 - alias Chung Shiu-hung - taken from a Guangzhou studio 13 days ago by six men, two in Public Security Bureau uniforms.

China has told the Hong Kong Interpol bureau that Au had been arrested but not said on what charges.

The diplomatic moves emerged yesterday, a day after Hong Kong police said it would not be appropriate for them to get involved.

A Security Branch spokesman said: 'Mr Chung's wife has approached the Government for assistance.

'We are concerned with the circumstances under which Mr Chung has been detained and we will seek urgent clarification with the Chinese authorities on the legal basis of Mr Chung's detention and their assurance that the case will be handled in accordance with the law.

'Our representations have been carried out in Hong Kong through the Political Adviser's Office, and through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London and the British Embassy in Beijing.' But officials noted previous attempts to get information have been unsuccessful.

Branch statistics show that in the three years up to the end of last year, China had responded in one out of 10 cases in which a total of 12 Hong Kong people had been detained over commercial disputes.

Au's family have had no news since receiving a ransom call five days ago, demanding seven million yuan (HK$6.5 million) be sent to a mainland account.

A brother of Au's said they had ignored an 'ultimatum' ordering the family to send the money on Christmas Day.

'What we really hope is to receive a telephone call from him, telling us he is safe and on his way back,' he said.

The health of their mother, who had cancer, and of their grandmother, who suffered hypertension, was getting worse, he said.

Au had been directing a film called Oriental Express in Guangzhou. The movie is about two Hong Kong businessmen wrongly accused of murder escaping from public security custody.

Fears Au had been kidnapped stemmed from a financial dispute between his father, Au Kan-shing, and people he had been doing business with in Anshan city, Liaoning.

Mr Au's father has written an open letter to newspapers, insisting his son played no part in the business, a remittance operation which collapsed last year.

An Anshan Public Security Bureau taskforce is investigating claims that 20 million yuan was unaccounted for.