Garley charges considered

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 29 November, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 29 November, 1997, 12:00am

Building and lift companies for the fire-hit Garley Building may face corporate manslaughter charges, a court heard yesterday.

Deputy government prosecutor Samuel Leung Shiu-kee asked South Kowloon Court to put summonses on hold while the Department of Justice considered such a move.

Representatives of Ryoden Lift and Escalator Company, Hop Cheong Engineering Company, sub-contractors Kwan Kee Construction Company and seven individual workers reappeared in court.

They denied 28 summonses issued by the Labour Department and the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department, accusing them of failing to ensure workers' safety and failing to maintain a safe workplace.

Mr Leung requested that a trial originally set for January 19 be postponed.

He said: 'The corporate manslaughter charges are very much at the forefront of Department of Justice thinking.

'We have consulted veteran lawyers on their opinions. We have not been able to reach a conclusion yet.' Magistrate Tong Man allowed a further adjournment until January 19 for the prosecution to seek advice. A new trial date was not set.

Outside court, Mr Leung said corporate manslaughter offences carried unlimited fines against convicted companies.

If any senior-level company employees were proved to be grossly negligent, jail terms could be imposed on top of fines.

In June 1995, Ajax Engineers and Surveyors Ltd was fined $3 million after 12 workers died when an overloaded lift plunged 20 floors at a North Point building two years earlier.