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Hong Kong courts

Retrial ordered of doctor who gave fatal injection at Hong Kong beauty clinic

Dr Mak Wan-ling will have to stand trial again after jury’s failure last month to reach verdict on manslaughter charge over 2012 death

PUBLISHED : Friday, 19 January, 2018, 7:12pm
UPDATED : Friday, 19 January, 2018, 11:02pm

A Hong Kong court has ordered a retrial of a doctor who administered an injection that killed a woman at a beauty clinic in 2012, following a jury’s failure to reach a verdict on a manslaughter charge.

Dr Mak Wan-ling, 35, emerged from the High Court teary eyed on Friday after Madam Justice Judianna Barnes Wai-ling granted prosecutors the retrial on the grounds of public interest.

Mak was accused of manslaughter – along with clinic owner Dr Stephen Chow Heung-wing, 63, and technician Chan Kwun-chung, 32 – over the death of Chan Yuen-lam, 46, on October 10, 2012.

A nine-member jury convicted Dr Chow and technician Chan on December 12 last year after a trial lasting 98 days and 15 hours of deliberation. Chow was later jailed for 12 years while his technician received a prison term of 10 years.

But Mak’s fate was left hanging as the jury failed to reach a verdict on her role, despite jurors repeatedly raising questions for clarification with the court.

On Friday, prosector Raymond Leung Wai-man SC told the court that the prosecution had decided to proceed with a retrial.

His application was opposed by Mak’s counsel, Peter Duncan SC, who argued that a second trial would not be in the public interest.

“The public interest is already served when two persons were found criminally responsible and received lengthy deterrent sentences,” he said.

A retrial meant the family of the deceased and customers who suffered ill effects from the beauty clinic’s treatments would have to testify again, which would bring stress to all parties, Duncan said.

“Dr Mak continues to suffer adversely,” the counsel added.

Duncan noted that much time had passed since the incident took place and the previous trial had been “extraordinary long”, between which Mak had given birth to a child in May 2016.

“This is a matter that’s literally on her mind every day,” Duncan said.

[I would be] very willing to cooperate with the court in the hope that a retrial will uncover the truth
Yeung Kam-hoi, the dead woman’s husband

He also argued that the strength of the evidence against his client had been reflected in the jury’s inability to reach a verdict, and the huge publicity surrounding the case could affect her access to a fair trial.

But Leung countered: “By law there has to be a retrial.”

Under Hong Kong’s Jury Ordinance, a jury is to be discharged when they cannot agree upon a verdict, and a new jury sworn in to hear the trial “as if such first jury had not been empanelled”.

The prosecutor also pointed out that Mak had served a different role from her two co-defendants in the case so the pair’s convictions were “neither here nor there”.

“I am with the prosecution,” the judge said. “I think, in the public interest, there should be a retrial.”

Speaking after Friday’s hearing, the dead woman’s husband, Yeung Kam-hoi, welcomed the decision and indicated through lawmaker Alice Mak Mei-kuen that he would be “very willing to cooperate with the court in the hope that a retrial will uncover the truth”.

A pretrial hearing is scheduled for April 17.