THE Legal Aid Department has admitted serious flaws in processing 300 applications for legal assistance by victims of last year's raid on the Whitehead Vietnamese detention centre. Most applicants and potential witnesses have been repatriated, and the department's senior policy co-ordinator acknowledged that their departure from the territory posed a problem. Policy and Administration Co-ordinator Lolly Chiu Yuen-chu said her department had not responded to any applications over property lost in the raid or injuries suffered. She said it had been waiting for advice from an outside counsel hired to look at the cases and that advice had not been received until April 20. 'We now have counsel's opinion . . . Based on his advice we will devise a course of action,' Ms Chiu said. Only a few hundred of the 1,500 people who were the targets of the April 7 raid last year are left in Hong Kong. Most have been forcibly or voluntarily repatriated. She was unable to explain why no decision had been made on the applications more than a year after the event. 'It took some time to interview all the applicants and take statements, also the counsel went on leave for some time . . . I don't know for how long.' More than 100 people sought medical attention after in excess of 1,000 officers fired hundreds of tear-gas canisters into Section 7 of the camp in what was dubbed a transfer operation. Ms Chiu agreed that many of the applicants and potential witnesses had been repatriated and that it was unlikely they would be brought back to Hong Kong if their applications were approved and cases were brought before the courts. She said forwarding addresses had been taken from applicants. But she had no comment on whether it would be possible to find them at addresses they had given for homes they left up to six years ago. However, refugee lawyer Rob Brook said it would be all but impossible to find people in Vietnam after they had returned and completely impossible to expect that they would be flown back to Hong Kong at government expense for court cases. 'This is a system that was flawed from the start. There is no reason why these cases could not have been dealt with as the interviewing process took place,' Mr Brook said. Most of the claims involve the loss of personal belongings during the operation which saw the transfer of the group to the High Island detention centre at Sai Kung. The methods used in the operation were criticised in an independent report ordered by Governor Chris Patten. Not all claims for compensation would have to go before the courts. Some would be settled out-of-court.