Witness may have misunderstood call, court is told

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 07 March, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 07 March, 2006, 12:00am


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A prosecution witness in the conspiracy trial of lawyers Andrew Lam Ping-cheung and Kevin Egan and two others told a court her boss' lover may have misunderstood the circumstances of a phone conversation conducted following her arrest by the ICAC.

The lover, Mandy Chui Man-si, who has pleaded not guilty to perjury, gave an affirmation to a court on July 16, 2004, in support of a habeas corpus application for the witness, Becky Wong Pui-see, stating that the latter had had 'very great difficulty' calling her.

She also said ICAC officers had snatched the witness' mobile phone and confiscated her SIM card after they saw from the phone that her boss, Derek Wong Chong-kwong, had tried to call her. Chui added that Becky Wong did not know where she was and was speaking in a trembling voice.

But yesterday Becky Wong - who was arrested on July 9, 2004 by ICAC officers investigating Derek Wong, the chairman of Semtech International Holdings, for alleged market manipulation - denied her voice had been trembling and said she had taken the initiative to surrender her SIM card to avoid embarrassment.

She denied having told Chui she did not know where she was. At the time of the call, Becky Wong, a Semtech secretary, was in the company of ICAC officers, having entered the agency's witness protection programme four days after her arrest.

Asked by Nicholas Adams, counsel for Chui, if she thought his client had lied about her 'trembling voice' in her affirmation, the witness said: 'I don't think she was telling lies. She probably misunderstood the situation.'

Addressing Becky Wong, Mr Adams said: 'Safe house, non-prejudicial statements, habeas corpus, bail, legal advice - things you had never dreamt of the week before, you had to think about them. You have been arrested, questioned for hours and hours to the point of exhaustion, put in a position where you needed escorts, slept in different places, deprived of the company of your dog ...You are absolutely adamant that your voice was not trembling?'

The witness insisted her voice had not been trembling.

The prosecution has told the court Egan, 58, Lam, 53, Derek Wong, 37, and Chui, 25, were engaged in a campaign to press the Independent Commission Against Corruption to release Becky Wong, a potential witness against Derek Wong in another case.

The defendants have pleaded not guilty to a joint charge of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. The two lawyers have pleaded not guilty to a joint charge of conspiracy to disclose information to journalists about the identity of the secretary. Egan also denies two alternative counts of disclosing information to then South China Morning Post reporter Magdalen Chow Yin-ling.

The hearing continues today before District Court Chief Judge Barnabas Fung Wah.