Confessions 'were forced'
SOME defendants in the 'Big Spender Gang' trial told a Guangzhou court that they had been forced to make confessions after a gruelling interrogation.
The trial at the Guangzhou Intermediate People's Court entered its fifth day yesterday.
Appearing were five mainland and four Hong Kong defendants. The Hong Kong men were: Chan Chi-ho, 36; Wong Wah-sang, 36; Chu Yuk-shing, 42; and Lee Wan, 39.
The group were also said to be linked to at least seven robbery cases in Hong Kong and Guangdong.
Among the high-profile robberies were hold-ups of jewellery shops in Kwun Tong and Shamshuipo in 1991 and 1992.
The Hong Kong cases were highlighted in yesterday's proceedings as the key man Yip Kai-foon, who allegedly led the robbery spree, was caught and is serving a jail term in Hong Kong.
Yesterday, the court heard about two armed robberies in Shenzhen in 1995.
In January 1995, Yip and Chan Chi-ho robbed and kidnapped a Tianjin businessman and stole 2,500 tonnes of steel and building materials, the court was told.
The businessman suffocated after being gagged and bundled in the boot of the gang's getaway car for more than three hours, the court heard.
The court was also told that in November 1995 Yip was informed that his associate Choi Chi-hung, a Hong Kong resident nicknamed 'Chicken Hung', had betrayed him. Yip allegedly gunned down Choi in a village near Shenzhen Reservoir.
But one of the mainland defendants, Liang Hui, 32, was said to have retracted the statements he had given to the mainland police.
Liang was quoted as saying: 'I was forced to confess because the Public Security Bureau officers had disallowed me food and water.' Liang's brother, Liang Hua, who heard the trial from the public gallery yesterday, said: 'It is unfair. He is only forced to sign the statement.
'He was under around-the-clock interrogation and was not given water or food until the public security officers were satisfied with his answers.' A mainland lawyer, Wong Wah-sang, who represents Hong Kong defendants, said lawyers would raise the point in the court to ensure their clients' rights would be protected.
The lawyer also said they were instructed by the court that the trial would continue today.
He predicted the trial could enter the 'court debate' stage from tomorrow where lawyers and public prosecutors would argue their cases.
Today the court is expected to hear how Yip Kai-chung and Yip Kai-yuk - Yip Kai-foon's brothers - shared the cash. The pair are expected to appear in court today.
Yesterday's proceedings ended at 4pm. The defendants were taken back to the Guangzhou No 1 Detention Centre in two police vans, escorted by a fleet of 13 police and armoured cars.