Shoot-out constable's kin seek payment

PUBLISHED : Friday, 26 October, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 26 October, 2007, 12:00am

Officer's widow fights for death gratuity

The lawyer acting for family members of Tsui Po-ko says the government should pay them a death gratuity despite the fact a jury had found that the late constable had unlawfully killed three people, including a fellow officer in the Tsim Sha Tsui underpass shoot-out last year.

The lawyer, Daniel Wong Kwok-tung, said the ruling by the five-member jury in the Coroner's Court should be treated as a separate issue and this should not affect whether the death gratuity should be paid.

Mr Wong said the Coroner's Court investigated only the cause and circumstances of death, but it did not apportion blame. It did not claim anyone was criminally liable for a death. In his view the death gratuity should be dealt with as a separate matter. He added that a judicial review would be considered as a last option regarding the government's refusal to grant the death gratuity.

Mr Wong said he had only been told of the government's decision when he contacted Tsui's wife, Li Po-ling, a few days ago.

He said Ms Li felt helpless after being contacted by a welfare officer and told the government had decided not to grant the death gratuity to her and his family.

On April 25 a five-member jury ruled in the Coroner's Court that the late constable Tsui had unlawfully killed two fellow policemen and a bank guard.

The jury, three men and two women, found Tsui had unlawfully killed constable Leung Shing-yan and guard Zafar Iqbal Khan in Tsuen Wan in 2001 and constable Tsang Kwok-hang in the Tsim Sha Tsui shoot-out last year.

It also found Tsang had lawfully killed Tsui in the shootout before dying.

Mr Wong hoped some leniency would be shown concerning the death gratuity.

His family needed the money. Tsui had left behind a five-year-old daughter, he said.

The lawyer reiterated that it is still too soon to say what action would be taken against the government's decision as he needed more time to study the matter.

But at this stage, he hoped talks could first be held with the Civil Service Bureau. Seeking a judicial review would be the last option.

Under Chapter 99 of the Pension Benefits Ordinance, civil servants who have completed at least two years qualifying service are entitled to a death gratuity.

For those who have less than two years qualifying service, they could receive the gratuity if the death was shown to have resulted from:

A discharging of duty;

No serious and wilful misconduct;

Circumstances specifically attributable to the nature of his duty.

The 37-day inquest heard a great deal of evidence from witnesses and had minutely examined the shootings and robbery spanning five years, but had left several questions unanswered.

The court had heard that Tsui, an off-duty constable, had killed Leung and stolen his gun in an ambush in March 2001 and robbed a bank with the missing gun in December that year.