A District Court judge was asked yesterday to step down from a conspiracy trial involving HK$72 million because he was previously a government prosecutor and had been involved in a case linked to the one he is now overseeing. The request to Judge Stanley Chan Kwong-chi came from Martin Lee Chu-ming SC, who is defending one of three people accused of conspiring with concert promoter Abba Chan Tat-chee to misappropriate company funds. Mr Lee, for Hon Ming-kong, 41, the chairman of Hong Kong-listed China Science Conservational Power (CSCP), said Judge Chan was at risk of possible accusations of bias because of his involvement as a prosecutor in the corruption trial of Chan Kau-tai, father of Canto-pop star Eason Chan Yik-shun, which had links to the present case. The judge adjourned the case to Monday, saying he would prepare a statement relating to his involvement in the previous case for all counsel. The trial began on April 8 with Abba Chan Tat-chee, the key prosecution witness, testifying for only a day because of several adjournments. Making his application for Judge Chan to withdraw, Mr Lee said the judge, as a former senior assistant director of public prosecutions, was the advising counsel for the prosecution against Chan Kau-tai in 2002. In that case witness Lai Sai-sang - who preceded Hon as chairman of CSCP - had been granted immunity to testify about offering bribes to the defendant, a decision that Judge Chan would have been involved in. Hon, CSCP financial controller Anthony Chow Ho-tung, 48, and a subsidiary's employee, Kan Lai Lai-kan, 40, have denied a total of 14 charges of conspiracy to steal, conspiracy to defraud and publishing a false statement in the company's 2004 annual report. They have been charged with conspiring with Chan and others to steal about HK$14 million from the company between 2004 and 2005, and a series of cover-ups that led to further misappropriation of about HK$58 million.