Jetfoil robbery mastermind gets 191/2 years

PUBLISHED : Friday, 17 May, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 17 May, 1996, 12:00am

A former Macau police officer was jailed for 191/2 years yesterday and fined $6.5 million for masterminding the $10 million jetfoil robbery 11 months ago.

Wu Shu-cheong, 37, was found guilty of piracy, robbery and possession of firearms. He wept as the sentence was delivered.

Justice Joao Augusto Gil de Oliveira jailed Wu for 18 years for piracy, 10 years for robbery and four months for possession of firearms.

But he reduced the term to 191/2 years because Wu had co-operated with police and part of the money had been returned.

The court also ordered Wu to pay $6.5 million compensation to the security company Guardforce and $17,400 to the jetfoil owner, Sociedade de Tourismo Diversoes de Macau.

The judge said he believed Wu had plotted the robbery to relieve a family financial crisis after his mother was deceived in a property transaction and his wife lost millions of dollars on the money market.

'Because of the seriousness of the crime you committed, I have decided to give you a very heavy penalty,' the judge said. 'Despite the fact you were a policeman, you broke the law. That is very serious.' It is understood China had tried several times to have Wu extradited.

The gang hijacked the Hong Kong-bound Far East jetfoil Guia on June 13 and escaped with $10 million. There were 125 passengers on board.

The pirates, armed with handguns, forced the captain to change course.

The jetfoil headed for an island in southern China where a speedboat was waiting for the robbers.

A mobile phone left on the jetfoil provided clues that led to the arrest of the culprits.

Most of the stolen cash has already been recovered.

Wu is believed to be the last member of the eight-man gang to be sentenced.

His mainland partner, Chen Wenjian, 20, was executed, Zhang Shaomain, 27, received a death sentence suspended for two years, and Zhou Hanlain, 22, was sentenced to life imprisonment in a Chinese court earlier this year.

Liang Bingzhou was sentenced to 20 years' imprisonment for piracy by a Hong Kong court.