Slice of Life

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 March, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 March, 2008, 12:00am

From the South China Morning Post this week in: 1983

Hongkong, March 16

The defence opens for a taxi driver charged with murdering four women whose bodies were dissected. Mr Gilbert Rodway, counsel for Lam Kor-wan (27), told Mr Justice Baber and an all-male jury in the High Court that Lam 'regarded himself as not himself' but a higher being when he committed the offences, as if his mind and body were two different parts.

The Crown closed its case yesterday - the eighth day of the trial that the media has labelled as the 'horror jars case'.

He has pleaded not guilty to murdering a dance hostess, Chan Fung-lan (21), on February 3; a cashier, Chan Wan-kit (31), on May 29; a waitress, Leung Sau-wan (29), on June 17; and a student, Leung Wai-sum (17), on July 2. The women were killed last year. He pleaded guilty to manslaughter on grounds of diminished responsibility, however, the plea was rejected.

Over the next two days, defence witnesses, his mother, Mrs Lam Cheung Kim-ping, and his brother gave testimony. Mrs Lam said her husband beat Lam when he was a child. She said that when he was about two years old, he was slapped by his father so hard that his head banged against the wall, resulting in two black eyes and one side of his face turning red.

Lam admitted strangling the four women, dissecting them and keeping parts of their remains. On the seventh day of the defence case, Lam told a psychiatrist from Australia that it was the power of God that had made him kill. Dr D.T. Barnes said Lam also told him that he felt he could communicate with God when he was alone and that other people were 'rubbish' and did not have this kind of communication.

Hongkong, March 17

The wife of the property tycoon Mr Gordon Wu Ying-sheung was originally the target of kidnappers who later demanded a HK$1.5 million ransom after abducting his young son, the High Court was told yesterday.

One of the kidnappers, Sin Ting-leung (24), said the initial plan was to take Mrs Wu to a quiet hillside and then strip and photograph her. The photographs were to be used to blackmail Mr Wu. But they later changed their minds, thinking it would be less troublesome to kidnap the son.

Sin pleaded guilty before Mr Justice Hooper to a charge of forcible detention of 10-year-old Wu Man-sun on September 30. As Sin's co-defendants had pleaded not guilty and were to be tried next month, the judge deferred his sentencing of Sin until the end of their trial.

Washington, March 17

Klaus Barbie, the former Gestapo chief facing trial for mass murder in France during World War II, made four visits to the United States in 1969 and 1970, a top US Justice Department official said.

Mr Allan Ryan, director of the Justice Department's office of special investigations, was speaking after being named as the leader of an investigation into the relationship between Barbie and the US Government.

Mr Ryan would look into reports that Barbie (69) received US aid in eluding French authorities who sought to try him for his role as Gestapo chief in Lyons, France, from 1942 to 1944.

Barbie, known as the 'Butcher of Lyons', was twice convicted of war crimes in absentia by French courts in the 1950s. He was expelled from Bolivia and returned to France last month to face another trial for alleged crimes against humanity.

Alice Springs, March 21

A sunburned Prince Charles, Princess Diana and nine-month-old son William arrived in Alice Springs yesterday after a 23-hour flight from London to start a four-week tour of Australia. They spent their first night in the Gap Motor Hotel, dubbed 'the palace of Alice'. Initially they were booked to stay in a luxury hotel but it was damaged by floods last week.