Tight security ringed Macau's Court of Second Instance yesterday as 'Broken Tooth' Wan Kuok-koi and seven other convicted triad gangsters began their long-awaited court appeal. Marksmen were deployed along the court roof, while sniffer dogs and about two dozen heavily armed members of the police tactical unit were also on hand. Wan's elderly mother and one of his sisters attended the five-hour hearing but Wan was not present. His henchman, Vong Tat-hou, was the only one of the eight appellants to appear. All the others were represented by their lawyers. A court official said Vong had appeared because, unlike the others, he had been sentenced in absentia. He was given a 10.5-year jail term by Macau's Court of First Instance on November 23 last year. He was arrested by mainland authorities last December and extradited to Macau on January 27 to serve his sentence on several triad-related charges. Vong, 35, told the three-judge panel he was a businessmen who owned a property company, a travel agency and a disco, generating a turnover of about $100 million a year. He insisted that he had never committed any crime since serving a two-year prison term for drug trafficking in the late 1980s. He denied he had been a leading member of Wan's 14K triad gang and asked to be acquitted of all charges. The hearing was attended by six lawyers, including Wan's high-profile defence counsel, Pedro Redinha. It was widely claimed in Macau that Mr Justice Estrela was hired by Macau's pre-handover Portuguese administration to conduct the Broken Tooth trial. He returned to Lisbon soon after sentencing Wan to the maximum sentence of 15 years' jail for organised crime leadership. Mr Redinha and the other lawyers questioned the legality of a trial conducted by a judge who was specially selected for the task and requested its annulment, which would result in their clients' acquittal or a retrial. Francisco Nicolau, representing Wan's younger brother, Wan Kuok-hung, described last year's trial as a 'judicial fantasy'. His client is serving a five-year term for triad membership. Mario Paz said on behalf of his client that as a member of the legal fraternity he was ashamed of the trial, which he described as a 'black episode' in the history of Portugal's judicial system in Macau. Only one of the 10 defendants in the trial was acquitted on November 23. The others were sentenced to prison terms of between five and 15 years for a wide range of triad-related charges. The Court of Second Instance will announce its decision on the appeals on July 28. One of the defendants did not appeal yesterday.