Gang member from mainland China gets 14 years’ jail for attempted kidnapping of retired high-ranking Hong Kong official in 2007
- Li Guoyong, 46, was convicted of conspiring with others to commit the forcible detention of former Urban Council chairman Ronald Leung
A restaurant owner from mainland China was jailed for 14 years on Tuesday for his “indispensable” role in an attempted kidnapping of a former high-ranking Hong Kong official more than a decade ago.
Sentencing Li Guoyong, 46, High Court judge Madam Justice Maggie Poon Man-kay said that although there was no evidence to suggest he had physically accosted former Urban Council chairman Ronald Leung Ding-bong during the incident in 2007, it did not mean his culpability was any less than his accomplices.
“He actively participated in the preparation of it,” she said.
Li was convicted by an unanimous jury verdict on Monday of conspiring with others to commit forcible detention.
Leung, who led the city’s Urban Council between 1991 and 1999, had his limbs taped as a gang of three men tried to force the then 73-year-old into a wooden coffin-shaped box in a commercial building in Causeway Bay on November 6, 2007.
While no one could tell Li was among the trio, the jury convicted him as he was implicated in the preparatory work, including the renting of oxygen tanks and the delivery of the box used during the attack.
“This cannot be said to be trivial,” Poon said, before sending Li to jail. “This was indispensable.”
Li received the same jail term as the mastermind, Brandi Chiang Sai-wah, who was sentenced to 14 years in 2008. Chiang was a brother of former Urban Council member Chiang Sai-cheong.
Li’s trial came more than a decade after the incident because he had fled Hong Kong for the mainland. He returned to Hong Kong a few times in 2014, but was not arrested until last year because police had passed the wrong information to the Immigration Department.
Poon stressed a deterrent sentence was needed due to the evil nature of kidnapping. She said the attack had no doubt taken a toll on the mental condition of Leung, who was left to defend himself against three strong men.
“This subjected Leung and his family to unnecessary torture,” she said.
The unsuccessful attempt took place in a building on 22 Yee Wo Street where Leung had rented an office. Leung’s struggle and the intervention of a passer-by thwarted the kidnapping.
The court heard that one gang member followed Leung into the building’s lift in the morning. When it reached the 10th floor, the man pushed him out into the corridor, where two others were waiting with the box wrapped in cardboard, and oxygen tanks.
They taped Leung’s arms, legs, mouth and eyes, and tried to force him into the box. But Leung had struggled violently, biting off one attacker’s little finger. The gang fled after a passer-by intervened. A security guard in the building also alerted police, the court heard.
Records showed Li had visited a medical shop in Cheung Sha Wan the day before the incident to rent oxygen tanks.
Li, a married father of two who ran a restaurant on the mainland, claimed during the eight-day trial that Brandi Chiang had engaged him to do some cleaning, a version of events rejected by the jury on Monday.