Officer 'helped plot sham marriage'

A policeman helped arrange a bogus marriage so a domestic helper could stay in the SAR, a court heard yesterday.

Constable Jacob Kwok Keung and transport worker Ho Tin-on allegedly promised Chan Hor-pui $30,000 for marrying Melba Valera, 30.

Kwok, 31, and Ho, 33, prepared bogus documents, including an employment letter for jobless Mr Chan, which the couple submitted to immigration officers in support of Valera's application for a dependent's visa, prosecutor Lily Yew said.

Kwok, Ho and Valera all pleaded not guilty to a charge of conspiracy to defraud the Immigration Department.

Mr Chan, who has not been charged, was given immunity from prosecution to testify in the District Court trial.

But yesterday, defence barrister Joseph Tse applied to bar Mr Chan from giving evidence, arguing that, under common law, a person could not testify against a spouse unless under exceptional circumstances, such as sexual harassment or assault.

Judge Fergal Sweeney adjourned the case until tomorrow to allow the prosecution time to reconsider its position. He suggested Ms Yew could either ask Mr Chan to divorce Valera or stop the prosecution against the maid.

Ms Yew told the court the pair married on October 24, 1997. Kwok taught Mr Chan what to say to immigration officers during interviews and forged documents which claimed Mr Chan worked at a seafood restaurant, it is alleged.

The maid secured a switch from a working visa to a dependency visa and it was not said how the alleged scam was later uncovered.