Lisa Kuo illegal basement case to be heard with trial of others involved
Thomas Chan and Austin Chiu
A special hearing of the case against Lisa Kuo Yu-chin over her illegal basement in Kowloon Tong will be heard together with the trial of three others involved in the scandal that derailed the chief executive bid of Kuo's husband Henry Tang Ying-yen.
Chief Magistrate Clement Lee Hing-nin ruled after a case-management hearing in Kowloon City Court yesterday in which he heard the parties' views, saying: "On the rule of overall justice, the two sets of proceedings should be heard together."
Kuo has already pleaded guilty to starting construction of the basement without authority, while the others have pleaded not guilty to the charges against them. But a special hearing was ordered before sentencing Kuo, after she challenged some facts in the prosecution summary.
Lee had earlier passed Kuo's case to another magistrate. But yesterday, he ruled that the two cases - Kuo's and that of the three others - should be heard together before the same magistrate. The special hearing was set for February but will now start on November 27 with the other cases.
Kuo originally faced two charges, but after she pleaded guilty to one, prosecutors offered no evidence on the other, deciding that one charge was sufficient to reflect her guilt.
She is disputing statements attributed to engineer Chezy Tang that she had insisted on pressing ahead with construction despite having been warned by the engineer that she needed the Building Authority's approval.
The prosecution told the court yesterday that six witnesses, including Chezy Tang, would be called to give evidence in the special inquiry for Kuo to challenge the disputed parts.
Lee said the disputed parts were material to Kuo's sentence.
"Chezy Tang's evidence is relevant to whether the plan was premeditated," he said.
Legal academic Eric Cheung Tat-ming said Lee should first try the three others involved before dealing with Kuo's case so that the full details of the incident would be known.
He said the new arrangement was also fair to Kuo because if any new allegation arose in the trio's trial, she would have the chance to address it.