‘Glimmer of hope’ for four Hong Kong fishermen in Philippine drugs trial
Court evidence contradicts police claim the men had stashed drugs in a backpack
New evidence presented by a witness in a Philippine court contradicts police claims that drugs were found among the belongings of four Hong Kong fishermen arrested for operating a “floating crystal meth laboratory” off the tourist resort of Subic Bay last year.
Chan Kwok-tung, 42, Kwok Kam-wah, 47, Lo Wing-fai, 28, and Leung Shu-fook, 49 deny charges related to manufacturing illegal substances and possessing half a kilo of the powerful methamphetamine, also known as Ice. Previous applications for bail have been thwarted.
According to Democratic Party lawmaker James To Kun-sun, who has been assisting the defendants’ and their families, brief video footage provided by a witness – a journalist from Philippine broadcaster UNTV – in a court hearing on Friday, did not show any drugs had been found in a backpack that the defendants were ordered to empty.
He said the development provided a “glimmer of hope” to the families and added weight to their defence.
“It’s very hot, crowded and very unhygienic,” she said. “I really worry about him.”
The men were arrested aboard a fishing boat 3.2km off the coast of Zambales province, northwest of Manila, in a high-profile operation led by the country’s police chief Ronald dela Rosa in July 2016.
Police seized equipment for making crystal meth – known as shabu in the Philippines.
Prosecutors allege the men were part of a racket moving drugs from the vessel onto land.