Hui-Kwok trial drama delayed by a disappearing jury
Tempers rose with the mercury at the High Court yesterday.
A buzz had surrounded the court for weeks as the city counted down for the start of Hong Kong's biggest graft case.
Yesterday, it seemed the moment had arrived. After a delay on Tuesday when a juror failed to show, the prosecution case was to start at last. Journalists queued from 7pm on Tuesday to register for one of the coveted 15 media seats inside Court 7.
As the dawn broke yesterday and the temperature rose to a sticky 29 degrees Celsius, journalists traded barbs and accusations that the list had been tampered with overnight.
"How can you remove someone's name and put your name down instead?" asked one cameraman. "People did actually wait here for the whole night."
Others claimed that an earlier registration list prepared before midnight had been replaced. Two media members faced off in a heated argument.
But tempers eased as a large contingent, some drawing on cigarettes, discussed how to reconcile the divided camps.
One suggested solution was for the judiciary to help hammer out an answer for the daily sessions that may run until October.
The tension finally dissipated when a judiciary officer asked if journalists wanted to follow the list or not. No one objected.
In the end, it was all for naught.
A juror asked to be excused and the judge adjourned the case.
The media departed, the wind taken out of their sails.