The billionaire Kwok brothers and ex-chief secretary Rafael Hui Si-yan, accused in the city's biggest corruption case, will appear in court again in six weeks after a brief hearing yesterday.
On March 8, the prosecution will start a committal hearing - at which the defendants will indicate their pleas - before the presiding magistrate decides whether the case should be forwarded to the High Court.
Thomas Kwok Ping-kwong, 61, and Raymond Kwok Ping-luen, 59 - co-chairmen of Sun Hung Kai Properties - Hui, 64, and two other defendants appeared in Eastern Court yesterday for mention of their cases.
Acting Principal Magistrate Bina Chainrai allowed the prosecution's application for them to return on March 8. The five men were again freed on bail.
Graft-busters have charged the Kwok brothers and Hui, formerly Hong Kong's No 2 government official, with bribery and misconduct in public office. The Kwoks allegedly paid Hui more than HK$34 million in bribes.
Thomas Chan Kui-yuen, 66, Sun Hung Kai's executive director, and Francis Kwan Hung-sang, 62, a former Hong Kong Stock Exchange official, have been charged with conspiring with the Kwoks to offer some of the bribes.
The prosecution team, led by prominent British barrister David Perry, told the court that 72 witnesses would give evidence, up from 41 in previous hearings. Some newly added witnesses are ICAC officers.
The magistrate reminded the defendants not to discuss directly or indirectly with any listed witnesses any matters related to the present proceedings.
Some of the witnesses were employees of Sun Hung Kai Properties, the court heard.
The tycoon brothers were represented by Graham Harris SC and Gerard McCoy SC.
The High Court earlier allowed applications by the Kwok brothers to engage fraud specialist Clare Montgomery QC to act for Thomas Kwok, and John Kelsey-Fry to represent Raymond Kwok.
Montgomery, a former British deputy high court judge and a fraud specialist, recently acted for the Swedish government in its bid to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
Kelsey-Fry, with 34 years' experience, is an acclaimed "star-rated" Queen's Counsel who specialises in fraud and conspiracy law.