Bid for US role in sex-photos case The Department of Justice will apply to obtain evidence in the United States about the celebrity sex-photos case after the man at the centre of the scandal - singer-actor Edison Chen Koon-hei - refused to return to Hong Kong to testify. Chen's refusal led yesterday to the stalling of the trial of a man allegedly linked to the internet distribution of pictures of Chen in sex acts with some of the city's top female stars. The trial of computer technician Sze Ho-chun, 23, who has pleaded not guilty to dishonest use of a computer, was due to start in Tsuen Wan Court on Monday. But it was halted after the prosecution filed for an adjournment pending an application to the Court of First Instance for a letter of request to obtain evidence outside the jurisdiction of Hong Kong. Senior government counsel Hayson Tse Ka-sze told the court that if the higher court granted the letter of request, the local judge would be allowed to preside at proceedings in the US. He said US law allowed a local judge or magistrate to seek a hearing in the US if they wanted to assess the credibility of a witness. But legal sources said previous practice in such cases had been for prosecutors to travel to the other country to take videotaped evidence. Mr Tse said lawyers for Chen, who is listed as a prosecution witness, informed the prosecution on September 9 that the entertainer would not appear. He said the prosecution had thought that Chen's evidence could be dealt with by way of his witness statement, as a proposal along these lines submitted to the defence in July had not drawn a reply, leading him to assume it was accepted. But barristers Paul Tse and Kelvin Lai, for Sze, had now rejected the proposal, saying there might have been miscommunication caused by a change of legal representatives in July. In court yesterday, Mr Tse questioned the need for an overseas trip as it was unclear at this stage whether Chen could not return to Hong Kong on the original trial day or not at all. Chief Magistrate Tong Man acknowledged the defence's concern and asked whether the prosecution had any alternatives. He adjourned the case to November 26 pending further developments and continued Sze's bail. Sze was arrested at a computer store in Central where he works as a technician and was soon charged with one count of obtaining access to a computer with a view to making a dishonest gain for himself or another in 2006. Defence barrister Mr Lai said a witness was not obliged to testify but must comply if a subpoena was successfully served after the prosecution filed for it and it was approved by a judge. Failure to do so could lead to arrest for contempt of court. Chen's management company said the actor singer agreed to try his best to co-operate with the investigation but he had not promised to return to testify in the court. The actor, singer and businessman, who left Hong Kong after the scandal broke, returned briefly to apologise and vowed to step back from Hong Kong show business, and has since left the city again. He was recently spotted attending fashion shows and parties during New York Fashion Week. The first man arrested in relation to the scandal, Chung Yik-tin, was freed on February 15 after charges against him were withdrawn. Logistics clerk Kwok Chun-wai, who admitted publishing 83 photos of female stars in sex acts with Chen, was sentenced in July to two months in jail, suspended for two years.