Taiwanese inmate's father tells inquest his son wasn't an alcoholic

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 06 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 06 October, 2012, 3:11am

The father of a Taiwanese inmate who died while in the Correctional Services Department's custody three years ago yesterday denied an allegation that his son suffered from alcoholism.

Chen Yu-sung, the father of Chen Chu-nan, conceded at a hearing in the Coroner's Court that his son "drank one small glass of sorghum liquor or two big bottles of beer before he slept".

However, he disputed claims by fellow Taiwanese citizen Chen Jui-ying, an alleged accomplice of his son, that his son had a drinking problem so severe that his hands shook when he was not drinking.

Chen's 61-year-old father flew from Taiwan on Thursday to testify at the inquest into his son's death at the age of 33.

The younger Chen and Chen Jui-ying were employed in 2009 by an unnamed person to collect bad debts in Hong Kong, the court heard.

The elder Chen said he was aware that his son went to Zhuhai on the mainland to look for work, but did not know he had ended up in Hong Kong, where the two men were arrested by police for obtaining property by deception.

"Every time I saw [Chen], he was drinking all day and night," Chen Jui-ying wrote in a statement he made to police in 2010. He did not attend the inquest.

Public prosecutor Laura Liu King-fan read out the two statements Chen Jui-ying made separately in 2009 and 2010.

"When he was not drinking, his hands were trembling severely," he wrote in one of them. "To him, drinking alcohol was like drinking water."

After their arrest on August 12, 2009, Chen Chu-nan first appeared at Eastern Court on August 14, and was sent to the Lai Chi Kok Reception Centre in West Kowloon, at which he was found sitting in a sleepless state for one night and playing with a cockroach.

"He didn't sleep for a whole night," prison officer Tsau Kwok-leung told the inquest. "The inmate in the same cell with Chen Chu-nan told me in Putonghua that he was playing with a cockroach."

Tsau said that Chen Chu-nan's physical and mental states were normal, with no bruises on his hands and feet, when he was admitted to the centre.

The inquest, which is being held before a five-member jury, will continue on Monday.