Ice supergrass has sentence slashed in half

A SUPERGRASS who has offered to give evidence against Hong Kong's notorious 'Ice Queen' had his sentence more than halved yesterday after providing police with vital information on a major drug syndicate.

Chiu Pak-wing, 34, was jailed for 25 years in 1992 for trafficking in 10 kilograms of the deadly designer drug 'ice' worth $6 million.

He had planned to smuggle the drug to the Philippines in a karaoke machine. Chiu worked for Lee Chau-ping, one of the world's most wanted drug bosses.

Yesterday the Court of Appeal cut Chiu's sentence to 10 years after hearing how he had testified against alleged accomplices in three related trials.

Lee, dubbed the Ice Queen, was the mastermind behind a multi-billion dollar conspiracy to manufacture and traffic in ice.

She fled the territory when police uncovered her drug factory in Jiangmen, China, four years ago and is still on the run. Her former lover and right-hand man, Yu Yem-kin, 47, was jailed for 16 years in March 1994 for his role in the plot.

Yesterday Chiu asked the Court of Appeal to reduce his sentence because of the help he had given police in arresting others allegedly involved in the syndicate.

His lawyer, Gerry McCoy, said Chiu had also co-operated with police in China and agreed to talk to Canadian police. Mr McCoy described the Ice Queen as 'possibly the most wanted drug trafficker in international history aside from Colombia'.

He said Chiu was a 'true supergrass' and was now being held in solitary confinement for his own protection.

His brothers and mother had already received death threats and he feared for his wife's safety. Mr McCoy said Chiu's help might have stopped other mainland traffickers using Hong Kong as a route for exporting drugs.

'He has placed himself in a position where his own life is at risk at any time even when he gets out from jail.' Andrew Bruce, for the Crown, said detectives greatly appreciated Chiu's help and would be calling on him to give evidence if the Ice Queen were ever caught.

The Court of Appeal agreed to cut the sentence to 10 years. Mr Justice Power said: 'We are satisfied he must be placed in the category of a true supergrass.

'There is no doubt what he has said in the past and what he may say in the future has given substantial assistance to [police].' Of the three trials Chiu testified in, one defendant was convicted and two were acquitted.