Brian Kan has poll bribe charge case to answer
Former champion racehorse trainer Brian Kan Ping-chee has a case to answer on the election bribery charge against him, a magistrate ruled yesterday.
Symon Wong Yu-wing made the decision in Fan Ling Court after hearing that police were able to detect only one fingerprint on 130 HK$1,000 banknotes allegedly paid by Kan as an inducement for a villager to support him.
The court had heard fingerprint experts arguing over whether the single imperfect print was sufficient to support the prosecution.
But Wong decided that coupled with earlier evidence from villager Liu Fu-sau, his wife and Bowie Hau Chi-keung - who defeated Kan in the Sheung Shui Rural Committee chairman election in March - there was a case for the defence to answer.
Kan, 73, has pleaded not guilty to one count of engaging in corrupt conduct in an election. The Independent Commission Against Corruption alleges he left the money in Liu's shop as an inducement to vote for him. Hau won the poll with 44 votes to Kan's 16. The case continues today for closing submissions. Station sergeant So Ying-fat, one of two officers from the police identification bureau who testified yesterday, said Hong Kong banknotes did not easily show fingerprints that the police would find useful.
'There's only about a 0.5 per cent chance of detecting useful fingerprints ... due to waterproof features,' So said.
He said only fingerprints that could match 12 characteristics would be classified as 'of value' under Hong Kong standards and the court later heard that the lone print met only 10 of these.
'If someone is counting banknotes in a speedy manner it's possible that there is an insufficient area of contact between the hand and the paper surface,' So said.
Asked by defence counsel Lawrence Lok SC about evidence from two prosecution witnesses that they counted all 130 banknotes from top to bottom, he said people who did not sweat much, such as those over 50, would not easily leave a print.
A British fingerprint expert called by the defence described the police report as 'conservative'.
'I'd have expected many more marks, rather than one non-useful mark,' David Goodwin said. He called the only mark 'non-useful' as Sergeant Yeung Wai-lung had told the court the mark only fulfilled 10 out of a total of 12 required characteristics to be said to be of value.
Goodwin said that after an experiment on five Hong Kong banknotes he found them 'suitable for holding fingerprints' with as many as 40 per cent of prints being traceable.
But this was queried by prosecutor Edwin Choy, who said there was no record of how many times the notes in the experiment had been touched. Goodwin also said it was the first time he had experimented with Hong Kong banknotes and he had no prior knowledge about the paper characteristics.