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Body-in-cement murder case

International crime group wanted Hong Kong man killed or dismembered, body-in-cement murder trial hears

From police interview with third defendant, High Court hears about botched attempts to rob victim with spiked drink and a public toilet ambush, after crime group “There” allegedly put a US$20 million price tag on him 

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 03 May, 2018, 6:30am
UPDATED : Thursday, 03 May, 2018, 4:14pm

A man who was encased in a concrete coffin knew too much about an international crime group and “had to be deleted”, a Hong Kong court heard on Wednesday.

In a police interview played in court, defendant Cheung Sin-hang, 26, said his co-accused Tsang Cheung-yan claimed he belonged to a group called “There” that had put a US$20 million price tag on the victim, Cheung Man-li – who was also a member of the group.

A third man accused of the murder, Keith Lau, said: “There is no reason not to kill [him].”

The panel of seven jurors had earlier seen police interviews with Tsang, 28, and Lau, 23.

Cheung, who lived with Tsang and Lau in a Tsuen Wan flat, where they allegedly killed 28-year-old Cheung Man-li – known as Ah J – said a fourth housemate, Ho Ling-yu, suggested chopping the victim’s body into pieces and putting the parts into urns before filling them with cement. 

Ho, a witness for the prosecution, had earlier told the court she “feared the defendants would kill her too”.

While Tsang accused Ho of being the “mastermind” and Lau had pointed the finger at Cheung, Cheung said it was Tsang who floated the idea of robbing the victim, before Lau elevated it to a murder plot in which all had a part to play.

“I was to make him feel safe and provide help when needed,” Cheung told police.

The three housemates each denied one count of murder at their Flat 9D of the DAN6 industrial building on March 4, 2016, but admitted one count of preventing the lawful burial of a body.

Prosecutors alleged the trio attacked Ah J with chloroform before Tsang injected alcohol into his body, before burying him in a block of cement.

Cheung said he first met Ah J through Tsang in late February 2016, when Ah J was trying to get Tsang to invest in a property development in Australia worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Believing the deal to be a scam, Tsang began hatching ways to steal from Ah J.

Man accused in body-in-cement murder complained of ‘unfair’ treatment in Taiwan, court hears

On February 28, the trio met Ah J in a restaurant. Lau spiked Ah J’s drink while he smoked outside with Tsang. The scheme failed when Ah J did not consume the drink.

In the early hours of March 4, Tsang proposed going to Kwun Tong promenade, where Lau, wearing a wig, would ambush Ah J in a toilet. They aborted this plan because of closed circuit television cameras on site.

After they went home, Lau said: “Why not end him?” 

By that time, Cheung said, Tsang told them if they “deleted Cheung’s records” – meaning to kill or dismember him – they would get a reward. Lau wanted the US$20 million, he said. Tsang told him Ah J had important information on the group.

When Ah J arrived at the flat, Cheung recalled, Lau punched him repeatedly before covering his mouth with a chloroform-soaked towel. Cheung said he was in charge of holding the victim on the bed, while Tsang injected him “four or five times”.

Man told police he urged flatmates to hand themselves in over body-in-cement murder, Hong Kong court hears

As the group discussed their next step, Ho Ling-yu returned home. Cheung said Ho suggested burying the body at Tai Mo Shan and Tai Ping Shan or dismembering it and putting the parts in urns at temples.

“As long as I get a share of the money,” Ho said, according to Cheung.

The trial continues before Mr Justice Patrick Li Hon-leung on Thursday.