Chopped to death at her stall
An alleged triad society leader and an underling went on trial for murder yesterday, accused of planning a chopping attack on a newspaper vendor who led fellow traders in defying a gang order to buy more newspapers than they wanted.
Ng Sik-kei, 52, allegedly a leader in the 14K triad society, and Tsoi Wai-keung, 45, said to be Ng's underling, were arrested last year - 12 years after the death of Ho Wai-har, 40 - after three of the woman's four attackers turned against their 'big brother', volunteering to be prosecution witnesses.
Ng and Tsoi pleaded not guilty in the Court of First Instance to a joint count of murdering Ho at her newsstand, in Sham Shui Po on September 22, 1999. They also pleaded not guilty to being members of a triad society.
The prosecution said the two were operators of Ching Wui, a company that distributed newspapers to vendors in Sham Shui Po. They ordered the attack on Ho because they thought she was the 'troublesome woman' who had persuaded other vendors to defy their demand that vendors buy more copies than they wanted of two newspapers.
Ho's widower, Lau Ping-sun, told the court yesterday that the newspapers involved were Oriental Daily and the Sun.
Three attackers have already been jailed with life sentences in the case, and one received a 12-year sentence for manslaughter, the court heard.
In her opening remarks, prosecutor Charlotte Draycott SC said: 'These two men in the dock sent those killers - their junior brothers in the 14K - to chop [Ho] with butcher's knives and she bled to death in the street at their direction.
'The wickedness and the power of a triad society is that those junior members will commit the most appalling crimes out of loyalty to their brotherhood when they have no personal interest in it.'
The court heard that Ho worked all her life as a newspaper vendor at a stall at the doorway of Ying Bun restaurant in Tai Po Road, Sham Shui Po. Her parents started the business more than 30 years ago. She was treasurer of the Newspaper Vendors Trade Union.
Li Cho-ming, one of the attackers convicted earlier for killing Ho, told the court that he turned against his 'big brother' out of remorse. 'I have become a Christian. I want to tell the truth,' Li said.
He said Tsoi told him to chop the woman. 'Tsoi said he would give us some benefits and we would be looked after,' Li said.
He said Tsoi told him that he was angry with Ho because she was organising a boycott of the newspapers. 'Tsoi said something must be done to kill one in order to warn a hundred,' Li said.
Li earlier told police that Ng and Tsoi were 'so cruel to chop a little woman who only sold newspapers'.
He said he and other attackers were given HK$15,000 the night before the attack.
The court heard that Li and his accomplices arrived at Ho's newsstand at about 5am on September 22, 1999. Ho was slashed through her ribs and into her lung. She was also slashed on her knee so hard that her arteries were severed. She bled to death.
Li will continue to give evidence before Madam Justice Clare-Marie Beeson today.