Macau judge bows out as 'triads' taken off wanted list

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 02 August, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 02 August, 1997, 12:00am

A Macau judge who signed an order dropping arrest warrants for five suspected senior triad members has left the enclave's Judiciary.

Judge Joao Abrunhosa de Carvalho, struck the suspected head of Macau's 14K gang and four of his lieutenants off the wanted list on Monday, his last day of service.

The authorities have refused to link the dropping of the warrants with an outbreak of violence in which three people have been shot and fire bombs have exploded in the grounds of the Governor's Palace and metres from where he was having dinner on Thursday night.

Assistant to the Secretary for Security, Manuel Antonio Geraldes, insisted Judge Abrunhosa's departure had been pending for some time after he filed a request to leave, and had 'absolutely nothing' to do with the dropping of the warrants.

He also denied reports that the departure this week of government prosecutor Antonio Lamego was connected to the same case.

'They both requested to leave some time ago for personal reasons, it is as simple as that.' He said the arrest warrants were dropped because there was insufficient evidence to hold the five men.

Legal sources in the enclave say new organised crime laws that come into effect on Monday would have allowed the warrants to stand.

Meanwhile, police have detained three men in connection with the recent gang violence.

A police spokesman said a firebomb that damaged two cars outside the Security Headquarters while Governor General Vasco Rocha Vieira was having dinner with former Portuguese president Mario Soares, in the nearby Military Club, was a container filled with firecracker gunpowder.

Thursday night's fire bombing was the latest in a string of incidents including a drive-by shooting on the New Century Hotel, where the enclave's newest casino is to open amid tight security this morning.

The hotel backs on to Macau University campus where staff and students are known to be concerned for their safety.

A letter signed by students and parents sent to the South China Morning Post said: 'More shootings and explosions seem inevitable, and such incidents may kill our students and destroy the university buildings.

'We are really worried about our own safety and that of our professors.'