Guangdong lead in killing of witness

Felix Chan

The ICAC is seeking confirmation from mainland authorities on whether a man wanted in connection with the killing of a key witness in a multibillion-dollar cigarette smuggling case has been captured in Guangdong.

Alleged Hong Kong triad member Cheng Wui-yi was reported yesterday to be among seven people arrested in Foshan city in a region-wide anti-drugs operation early this year.

Cheng is wanted by the Independent Commission Against Corruption over the murder of Tommy Chui To-yan, a businessman and a key witness in an $8.5 billion cigarette smuggling and corruption case in Hong Kong. Chui's bound and gagged body was found floating in Singapore harbour on March 2, 1995, four days before his 39th birthday.

One of Cheng's alleged accomplices, Johnny Cheung Wai-ming, 40, was jailed for 27 years in 1998 for plotting Chui's murder. Cheung was captured on the mainland and handed over to the ICAC by Public Security Bureau officers through Interpol. The ICAC said yesterday it would contact its counterpart, the Guangdong People's Procuratorate, for more information on the arrest.

'Our first priority is to confirm if the report is true and that the man . . . is indeed our wanted person,' the Independent Commission Against Corruption said.

But even if the Guangdong authorities have Cheng, his return to Hong Kong could take months as the SAR and the mainland still have not reached an agreement on transfer of fugitives.