A VIETNAMESE man who is a murder trial witness should be released from detention while waiting to give evidence, the High Court heard yesterday. Resisting a Crown application to detain Pham Si Dung in a closed camp, counsel Philip Dykes said there were no reasons for Pham to be detained. He also contended that the prosecution only had the power to seek detention of a Crown witness, not a defence witness. Senior Crown Counsel Nicholas Bradley, however, stressed that it was the duty of the Attorney-General to ensure that a trial was conducted fairly and not to deprive the defence of a chance to put forth its case. Mr Bradley is asking Deputy Judge Yeung to grant a detention order for 21 days against Pham, who has already applied for voluntary repatriation. The case had previously been brought before Mr Justice Kaplan, who held that there was a procedural irregularity and he made no decision on the application last month. The matter was argued afresh yesterday before Deputy Judge Yeung, who will hand down his judgment on Monday. Mr Dykes said yesterday that the Attorney-General had no statutory power to intervene in the conduct of the defence. He said Pham could be released on his own recognisance as an alternative to detention, but that no reasons were given for refusing this option. He submitted that Pham should be allowed to stay in an open camp. Mr Dykes told the court that Pham should not be regarded as a criminal. He said there was no suggestion Pham would flee Hong Kong. Mr Dykes also pointed out that in the previous hearing, Mr Justice Kaplan had ruled that the Secretary of Security could only make a detention order in cases where a removal order was in existence. Mr Justice Kaplan had said that given that no such order had been made in the present case, the series of detention orders made against Pham were invalid. The court was entitled to take this finding into account when determining whether to exercise its discretion to allow the Crown's application, Mr Dykes said. He added there were alternatives to releasing Pham, including allowing him to return to Vietnam on the undertaking he would return to give evidence when required. Mr Bradley, however, pointed out that those who stayed in an open camp were Vietnamese who had been screened as refugees and were waiting to be resettled. By seeking voluntary repatriation in February, Pham had given up any claim to refugee status, he said. He would have no incentive to stay in the open camp and allowing him to be at large was not a practical solution, counsel added.