A SENIOR member of the Macau judiciary has apologised for the controversial handing over of an Australian businessman to China, and revealed police in the enclave did not inform the Legal Department until one month later. ''I'm sorry this situation has happened, but I didn't know anything about this case. Only afterwards did I know,'' District Attorney Alberto Bras told the Sunday Morning Post. Australian citizen and Hong Kong resident James Peng Jiandong was taken from Macau's Mandarin Oriental Hotel by judiciary police in October last year, driven to the border with Zhuhai and handed to Chinese authorities. Mr Peng, who has remained imprisoned in Shenzhen without being charged for eight months, has accused the judiciary police of collaborating with Chinese police and forcing him to sign a document in Portuguese which he could not read. Macau police and legal sources described the fallout over the case, which has drawn condemnation from the Australian Government, as ''a headache'', ''embarrassing'' and ''sensitive''. ''I'm sorry about Peng . . . The court didn't know anything about this,'' Mr Bras said. ''I knew about the case of Peng last November, a month after. When I found out, I told the police and the authorities of Macau 'nevermore': it must be according to the law.'' Assistant director of the judiciary police, Jose Azedo, read from a statement issued in the wake of a Sunday Morning Post article last week, but said he was ''not allowed to say anything on this case''. ''[Peng] was not arrested and voluntarily, in judiciary police [presence], said his case would be easily solved in the PRC [China] and he went to the PRC voluntarily,'' the statement said. ''Since he was not arrested, an attorney was not required. He made a statement before four witnesses. It is impossible for someone to accuse the judiciary police that he was forced to go there.'' Mr Bras said he could not decide whether judiciary police had forced Mr Peng to sign the document in Portuguese. ''Peng says they forced him to sign, but the police say he signed it voluntarily. It's a contradiction. I don't know where the truth is - it's impossible for me to find,'' he said. ''It is a question very important to Macau. After that, the Public Prosecutor and the Superior Court of Macau have adopted a process of extradition. ''Now people who are wanted can only go to China by process of extradition, and not by the police - like Peng. It is a decision of the Superior Court, not the police.'' Human rights lawyer Pedro Redinha said the handing over of Mr Peng raised concerns about the transfer of Macanese, Chinese or Hong Kong residents across the Macau-Zhuhai border. ''James Peng being an Australian citizen, I do not believe the Macanese authorities could turn him over to China without submitting the case, at least, to the Governor,'' Mr Redinha said. ''Before this case, the Chinese just asked for people and they were just taken across without any formalities. ''At the end of last year they changed policies . . . ''Unfortunately, before this happened James Peng was taken . . . Even the procedures of exchange were not observed.''