Indian trio 'assaulted' in Hong Kong kidnapping ordeal, court hears

Businessman and two associates had hands tied and water poured over their heads as gang demanded HK$19 million ransom, court hears

PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 November, 2013, 4:29am
UPDATED : Friday, 01 November, 2013, 11:58am

Three Indian men kidnapped in Hong Kong last week were repeatedly assaulted, had their hands tied and hot water poured over their heads by their assailants, a court heard yesterday.

Singh Karmjit, a 27-year-old Indian who lives in Hong Kong, appeared in Fanling Court yesterday to face a charge of kidnapping. He did not enter a plea.

The prosecution told Principal Magistrate Bernadette Woo Huey Fang that a culprit approached businessman Manmohan Singh Mangat in India early last month, telling him a Hong Kong businessman was interested in buying land he owned.

The person in India, who has also been arrested, was not named in court. India's respected Hindustan Times newspaper has identified him as Simranjeet Singh.

Mangat, reported by Indian media to be a leader of the Shiromani Akali Dal political party, was told he would have to come to Hong Kong for further discussions, the prosecution said.

The businessman arrived with banker Satwinder Singh and lawyer Gurinder Singh Gill on Friday. The court heard that the three were met at the airport by an unknown person, who drove them to a house in Sha Tau Kok. There, the court heard, they were threatened by five or six men carrying choppers. One had an object that looked like a pistol.

After their hands were tied, the three victims were assaulted and had the water poured on them, the prosecution said. Their belongings, including watches and mobile phones, were taken.

The kidnappers told the victims to call their families and ask for a ransom of HK$19 million, the court heard. The families told the Indian police, who alerted their Hong Kong counterparts.

On Monday, the trio had their passports returned and were taken to the airport, where they were located by the police.

The man who originally contacted Mangat was later arrested in India and provided Karmjit's contact information to police, the prosecution said.

But the court heard that the three victims had been unable to identify Karmjit as one of their kidnappers and the prosecution asked for more time to conduct forensic investigations and to compare Karmjit's fingerprints to those found on items of evidence and at the Sha Tau Kok house.

Chan Ho-yin, for Karmjit, said his client had gone to the police voluntarily. Officers had not sought to contact him and he thought he might be a suspect because police had contacted members of his family.

"The defendant went to the police station on his own initiative to assist the police because he was given the sense … he might be under suspicion that he was involved," Chan said.

Chan said his client, who is married, was earning HK$12,500 per month working as a cashier.

Woo adjourned the case until next Thursday and ordered that the defendant be remanded in custody. Karmjit was the first person to appear in court in connection with the kidnapping.

Separately, police said they had charged a 38-year-old man with kidnapping. He will appear before Fanling Court today.

A 35-year-old man arrested earlier was released on bail yesterday and must report to police next month. Two other men, aged 40 and 31, were arrested and detained yesterday. Three men and a woman, aged 25 to 45, were still being sought. All suspects are said to be of "foreign nationality".