Former Macau minister Ao Man-long attended a pretrial hearing at the Court of Final Appeal yesterday. The closed-door hearing finished yesterday. The Macau court will decide next month whether the charges against Ao are reasonable and whether a trial should start. Last month, public prosecutors charged the former secretary for transport and public works with taking bribes, abuse of power, money laundering and possession of huge assets from unknown sources. Security was tightened at the court building with armed police and prison guards keeping watch. Judge Chu Kin presided over the hearing. Under Macau's laws, a minister who has allegedly committed any work-related offence can only be tried in the Court of Final Appeal. But the rule has created a problem for the city's judicial system, which has only three judges in the highest court. Ao can be tried but may not be able to appeal - there are not enough judges to form two panels for a trial and an appeal hearing. Ao's lawyer Nuno Simoes is expected to raise questions about the protection of his client's legal rights and challenge evidence from the Public Prosecutions Office. Ao was arrested in December in the highest profile corruption investigation in Macau's history. Earlier this year, graft-busters in the city found cash, bank deposits, bonds and luxury goods belonging to Ao and his wife worth a total of 800 million patacas.