Woman refuses to testify in rape retrial

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 26 April, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 26 April, 2007, 12:00am

Sentence for convicted rapist overturned

A convicted rapist has walked free after his victim said she would refuse to testify at a retrial.

Mainland businessman Luo Xianping's five-year prison sentence was yesterday overturned by the Court of Appeal, which found the jury at his trial had been misdirected.

The appeal court, comprising Chief Judge of the High Court Geoffrey Ma Tao-li, Court of Appeal vice-president Mr Justice Michael Stuart-Moore and Mr Justice Frank Stock, found then-deputy High Court judge Alan Wright had wrongly instructed the jury on an issue both sides had previously agreed was not relevant to the case.

The court was left with no choice but to let Mr Luo go free after senior assistant director of public prosecutions Robert Lee Shiu-keung indicated the government would not seek a retrial because the alleged victim had refused to testify if one was ordered. Well-wishers applauded as Mr Luo, who had been free on bail since January 5, was released.

Earlier, the court had sought clarification of the reasons behind the decision not to push for a retrial.

The prosecution confirmed it was because the case would rely heavily on evidence of the alleged victim.

'I will not come to court again, nor will I make another statement,' the woman told a police officer sent to interview her during the lunch break. 'It has been a hard time for me and I have undergone a lot of pressure.

'I do not want to trouble my family again and I do not want to think about the incident again.'

Before his conviction, Mr Luo had headed a state-owned company, Zhongjin Fengde Holdings, which had linked up with international merchant banks, including Morgan Stanley, to dispose of more than US$1 billion in non-performing loans.

It was alleged at his trial that on the night of November 30, 2004, Mr Luo had ordered a girl from a massage service to be sent to his hotel room. He had requested a 'full set' service including sex, the court was told.

The alleged victim, who claimed to be a masseuse only and not a prostitute, had arrived while he still had guests and was asked to massage his head.

She alleged that after the guests left Mr Luo had told her to take her pants off and had forcibly stripped her when she refused to do so. She alleged he then raped her.

The jury at Mr Luo's trial returned a verdict of guilty by a majority of five to two.

However, Andrew Macrae SC, for Mr Luo, told the Court of Appeal that if the judge's erroneous instruction on a point of law that the defence had not had a chance to address could have led to even one of those jurors' decision, then the verdict was unsafe.

The Court of Appeal agreed.