35 years on, arrest warrant for alleged drug trafficker and newspaper founder Ma Sik-chun challenged

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 12 April, 2014, 5:13am
UPDATED : Saturday, 12 April, 2014, 5:13am

The High Court is to hear an application to revoke the arrest warrant for Ma Sik-chun, the suspected drug trafficker and co-founder of the Oriental Daily News who fled the country 35 years ago while awaiting trial.

According to a judiciary court list, the application will be heard on Monday morning, though the list does not make clear who made the application.

Ma - also known as Ma Yik-shing - was charged in August 1977 with conspiracy to traffic morphine and opium between 1969 and 1973. He skipped bail and fled to Taiwan by boat in September 1978 while awaiting trial.

Ma and his older brother Ma Sik-yu came to Hong Kong from Chiu Chow, in Guangdong. They founded the Oriental Daily News in 1969 and Ma Sik-chun was still publisher of the newspaper at the time of his flight to Taiwan.

His brother had fled a year earlier and the pair lived together in Taiwan until Ma Sik-yu died in 1992.

In 1996, a lawyer acting on behalf of the younger Ma contacted the government to find out what would happen were Ma to return to Hong Kong.

The court list does not state whether the application to discharge the warrant comes from the prosecution or the defence.

Solicitor Stephen Hung Wan-shun said it was usually the prosecution that made such an application, though this was not always the case.

Usually, the Department of Justice would apply to withdraw a warrant under two circumstances: "Either the wanted man has died, or there is inadequate evidence for the case."

Inadequate evidence might be cited in a case in which all witnesses had died.

Warrants do not have expiry dates, added Hung. Were any suspect to return while a warrant was active, he would be arrested.

The Department of Justice declined to comment, citing active legal proceedings.