IN A first for the territory, crucial evidence in the trial of a barrister accused of running a multi-million-dollar passport scam is to be beamed abroad via a 'video link'. The 'real time' satellite hook-up between a studio in Exchange Square and Southwark Crown Court in London will allow prosecution and defence lawyers to cross-examine witnesses. 'Video link has been used in British courts before but this will be the first time here,' said one senior Legal Department source. Up to six local businessmen and their wives may be called on to testify how they were allegedly conned by immigration consultant Paul Samrai, who was previously based in the territory. Samrai first appeared in a British magistrates' court in November 1992, charged with obtaining British passports by deception and selling them for almost $1 million each. A Metropolitan Police officer said the trial had been put back two weeks, to October 10, after defence lawyers asked for more time. He added that some of the evidence would now be given by video link. Detective Superintendent Peter Bunning, head of the Commercial Crime Bureau's counterfeit and forgery unit, said it would be the equivalent of having the witness box in Hong Kong and the rest of the court in England. Mr Bunning said details of who would be called on to give evidence were still being worked out with British authorities. He declined to name the witnesses. Mr Bunning said the work of setting up the video link, which will cost about $1,200 an hour to operate, had paid off and could be used in other cases. 'Two years ago the cost was prohibitive,' he said. 'The cost now is probably going to be cheaper than taking them [the witnesses] to London. I think there will be an increasing use of it,' said Mr Bunning. Among the alleged victims, who were originally due to fly to London to give evidence, are a former legislative councillor, doctors and a senior Legal Department lawyer. Samrai, 36, arrived in Hong Kong on June 8, 1990, and is said to have committed the offences from that time until September 1992 while working for a company called Opportunities UK (Hong Kong) Ltd. During that period the lawyer is alleged to have concocted documents showing the applicants had lived in Britain for five years before January 1981, when British nationality rules changed. At the time, he claimed he was 'only exploiting loopholes in the law' and said that he would embarrass the British Government during his trial. According to the police investigation at the time, Samrai is alleged to have used fake papers to obtain about 30 passports from the British Home Office in exchange for up to $944,000 from each client for themselves and their families. Samrai, who volunteered to return to London from Hong Kong in November 1992 and was arrested on arrival at Heathrow airport, is jointly accused with solicitor James Walker, 46. The trial is expected to last three weeks but could be shorter if the defendants plead guilty.