Three men imprisoned in Hong Kong for crimes committed in Thailand should be released under the conditions of a birthday decree issued by the Thai king in June, a court heard yesterday. The Court of First Instance heard an application for a writ of habeas corpus to be issued regarding the continued incarceration of Lam Kwok-kwong, Lam Chun-shek and Lai Hin-cheong, who have been in prison for more than 23 years on drugs-related charges. Habeas corpus applications are heard to examine whether there may be reason to suspect that a person is being held unlawfully. The three men were arrested and tried in Thailand, but returned to Hong Kong under an agreement for the repatriation of prisoners. They are inmates at Stanley Prison. All three have been the subject of several discounts on their sentences as decreed by the Thai king and their sentences should now be ended, their lawyer Hector Pun told the court. Under the terms of a prisoner repatriation deal between Hong Kong and Thailand, any prisoner returned continued to be subject to Thai rules governing the sentence and eligible for any pardons or sentence remissions in Thailand. Lam Kwok-kwong was arrested for drug trafficking in April 1983. He was sentenced to death on April 25, 1985, but the sentence was commuted to life in 1987 as part of celebrations for the Thai king's 60th birthday. Following the agreements between Thailand and Hong Kong's government, Lam Kwok-kwong was returned to Hong Kong in 1994 to serve out his sentence. Lam Chun-shek was also arrested in April 1983 and was originally sentenced to death. His sentence has also been commuted several times. Lai was arrested in January 1983 and charged with two counts of drug trafficking. He received 25 years and a life sentence, to be served consecutively. Mr Pun argued he too should be released, but under another decree, which granted immediate release to prisoners with certain diseases. Madam Justice Carlye Chu Fun-ling requested the Department of Justice review by Thursday how the prisoners were affected by the June decree.