DNA test holdups delay police shooting inquest

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 10 September, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 10 September, 2006, 12:00am

An inquest into the fatal Tsim Sha Tsui shoot-out between three police officers is being held up because experts are still testing key samples of DNA found at the scene.

According to a lawyer who represents the family of one of the officers killed in the gun battle, a 'DNA testing issue' has meant samples are still being cross-checked six months after the shoot-out in an underpass at the corner of Canton Road and Austin Road.

Constable Tsang Kwok-hang, 33, and off-duty constable Tsui Po-ko, 35, were killed and Constable Sin Ka-keung was seriously wounded in the March 17 gun battle.

Police chiefs have linked the shootings to the murder of another police officer - constable Leung Shing-yan in 2001 - and the slaying of Hang Seng Bank security guard Zafar Iqbal Khan during a robbery later the same year. They say one of the dead officers - Tsui - was solely responsible for all three killings.

The incident sparked wide public concern and led to a special Legislative Council security panel hearing.

News of the DNA delay comes after another shooting incident involving police officers last week, this time in an underpass in Aberdeen. The two incidents have not been linked by the police.

Daniel Wong, who is representing Tsui's family, says he has been told by officials that the DNA tests are preventing Organised Crime and Triad Bureau (OCTB) detectives from tying up their investigation. 'It is an issue over DNA. We have been told some outstanding tests need to be completed before a definite date can be fixed. We don't know the details because they will not tell us, but something is going on which is holding things up,' Mr Wong said.

According to a police source, the DNA samples have meant more time-consuming checks. Investigators are also awaiting some expert reports on ballistics. 'They've found DNA at the scene which still needs testing,' the source said. Police had not responded to questions about the DNA by last night. The latest twist in the investigation comes three months after senior government lawyer Diane Crebbin, who had been expected to assist the coroner at the inquest, was replaced by senior counsel Arthur Luk Yee-shun.

One of the dead officers, Tsang Kwok-hang, and survivor Sin Ka-keung have been awarded bravery medals by the government. Tsang is buried in Gallant Garden, a cemetery for the city's heroes.