The three-year court battle which yesterday ended in the death of multi-millionaire Chong Tsoi-jun has been one of the most extraordinary in Hong Kong's history. A potential witness was murdered, a magistrate's hearing took place in hospital, and charges were thrown out of court only to be reinstated. For Chong, the tension became too much to bear. His dream of having the charges against him dropped will now come true - but he has avoided trial only by taking his own life. He jumped from his 26th floor apartment at Robinson Heights, Mid-Levels. He was first arrested, with others, in December 1993 and charged with smuggling and corruption offences arising out of an alleged $8 billion cigarette smuggling racket. Chong, the managing director of cigarette exporters Giant Island, was also accused of attempting to pervert the course of justice by trying to persuade potential prosecution witness Tommy Chui To-yan not to give evidence. This charge was later dropped. The case took a dramatic turn when Chui was murdered in Singapore in April last year. His body was found floating at Clifford Pier. It was this which led to the withdrawal of Chong's bail and his being taken into custody. Seven months of legal trench warfare followed as defence lawyers desperately fought to secure his release from jail. On November 19 last year, while on remand in Lai Chi Kok Reception Centre, Chong slipped and suffered a serious injury to his spine. His mental state raised concerns even at that stage. Chong's lawyer, Andrew Lam, complained that Chui had not received proper medical attention for his back injury. He was later moved to the Hong Kong Sanatorium for surgery, which Mr Lam claimed had saved his life. Chong was said to have been unable to move his right leg and was suffering from a malfunctioning kidney. As he lay in his hospital bed, the court battle continued. In December, Magistrate James Lee felt he had no alternative but to conduct a court hearing within the hospital walls. Chong was too ill to travel to court. A nurse was the only member of the public present at the hearing. He later made court appearances in a wheelchair. By the time of his death, he was able to walk with the aid of a frame. Chong had won a victory the previous month when magistrate William Eccleton threw out the three remaining charges he faced. He ruled there was insufficient evidence for the case to continue. But his hopes of freedom were dashed when he was immediately re-arrested by the Independent Commission Against Corruption to face fresh charges of $60 million tax evasion. The prosecution also resurrected a $30 million corruption charge which had been thrown out by Mr Eccleton. The Crown used the rare procedure of obtaining a voluntary bill. Chong was released on bail in November after providing $20 million cash and two $3 million sureties. But he was taken directly from prison to the hospital where he had his back surgery. The last in the long line of court appearances came at the High Court on Wednesday, two days before he ended his life.