Judges reject triad's claim he was framed

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 22 December, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 22 December, 2007, 12:00am

A court has rejected an appeal by a man convicted of being involved in the murder of a witness in a multibillion-dollar tobacco smuggling case. The Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal by Cheng Wui-yiu, jailed over the murder in Singapore of ICAC witness Tommy Chui To-yan, after finding that a man who claimed to have evidence of a frame-up was 'someone who seemed incapable of telling the truth'.

Cheng, a Wo On Lok triad member from Lei Cheng Uk Estate, was jailed for life with a minimum term of 22 years in December 2004. He had been found guilty by a jury in the Court of First Instance of one count of conspiracy to murder and another of conspiring to help someone retain the proceeds of a criminal offence.

The body of Chui, who was to testify against former business partner Henfrey Tin Sau-kwong in a multibillion-dollar tobacco smuggling and bribery case, was found stuffed inside two canvas bags in Singapore Harbour on April 1, 1995. The manner in which the bags had been weighed down, as well as other signs left at the scene of his abduction, indicated he had been the victim of a triad hit.

Cheng's appeal centred on a claim that allegations made against him at the trial by key witness Johnny Cheung Wai-ming were fabricated. The claim was made by a former inmate of Cheung's, Ng Wai-man, who said he had been approached by Cheung in 1999 to help fabricate a story suggesting Mr Tin was the mastermind of the whole operation. The plan was to give the story to investigators in exchange for reduced sentences.

Mr Ng also claimed he had overheard conversations in which another prisoner claimed that other people had also been falsely accused of involvement by Cheung.

Mr Ng, released from custody on Christmas Eve 2005, had written three letters detailing his allegations to the High Court during Cheng's trial, but the letters had not been acted upon at the time. Police had subsequently taken statements from Mr Ng about the letters' content.

The Court of Appeal acknowledged that, if true, Mr Ng's story would have had a significant bearing on the outcome of Cheng's trial.

However, it found that as a witness, Mr Ng proved to be 'evasive in answering questions [and] provided untruthful answers on most, if not all, of the material issues'.

The court, comprising Mr Justice Michael Stuart-Moore, Mr Justice Wally Yeung Chun-kuen and Mr Justice Azizul Suffiad, rated Mr Ng's credibility as 'nil' and dismissed the appeal.