Top UK lawyer to lead Tony Chan prosecution
A top British lawyer will lead the criminal prosecution of fung shui master Tony Chan Chun-chuen after it was cleared by the High Court yesterday.
The admission of Queen's Counsel David Perry was in the public interest because the trial was expected to be 'unusually complex' and 'extremely high profile', Mr Justice Andrew Cheung Kui-nung said.
Chan, 52, is charged with forgery and use of a fake will purportedly created by businesswoman Nina Wang Kung Yu-sum in a legal fight over her estimated HK$50 billion estate, which eventually went to the Chinachem Charitable Foundation. Wang, then Asia's richest woman, died of cancer in April 2007 at the age of 69.
The Department of Justice applied for Perry to be its lead prosecutor, but the Bar Association objected, arguing Hong Kong had many capable lawyers who should be given the chance to try the case.
Cheung said he was satisfied the prosecution had made reasonable efforts to find suitable local lawyers. He said the probate fight and subsequent appeals had drawn intense media attention here and overseas.
'There is no reason to expect the criminal proceedings to be less high profile or less strenuously contested, particularly when in the criminal prosecution Tony Chan would not be fighting for someone's estate; rather, he would be fighting for his own liberty,' he wrote in his judgment.
He noted the prosecution's plan to call six lawyers, some of them prominent, as witnesses, saying an overseas counsel could avoid potential embarrassment. He also said the prosecution would be complex as it involved expert forensic evidence.
Chan tried to halt the trial for good, claiming the alleged will was materially altered by chemicals used in forensic tests by the authorities.
Perry will appear with senior assistant director of public prosecutions Anna Lai Yuen-kee. The preliminary hearing of Chan's application for a permanent stay in proceedings is likely to last 30 days, from May 14.