Hong Kong courts

Two Hong Kong police officers and businessman deny conspiracy charge

Court hears pair were offered HK$600,000 for information relating to a murder investigation

PUBLISHED : Monday, 30 October, 2017, 8:35pm
UPDATED : Monday, 30 October, 2017, 10:47pm

Two Hong Kong police officers and a businessman on Monday denied conspiring to obtain and divulge confidential details of a murder investigation in exchange for up to HK$600,000.

The District Court heard that neither of the officers were involved in the investigation in question. But they were approached by “someone”, whose identity was not disclosed by prosecutors, for information relating to a murder that took place after a fight at a Tsim Sha Tsui bar in October 2014.

Prosecutors said the three men were recorded – in covert surveillance – discussing the evidence and progress of the murder investigation, how the suspects should handle the police and court procedures, as well as how to split the money they received for providing information.

The reward was said to be in the range of HK$500,000 to HK$600,000.

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Police constable Lee Yuen-fook, 48, station sergeant Yip Kwok-leung, 51, and metal works businessman Hung Wai-ming, 47, pleaded not guilty on Monday to one joint charge of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office.

On October 5, 2014, Wong Man-kin and a male companion fled Hot Shot Bar at Tsim Sha Tsui after they assaulted two customers.

But they were soon caught by a gang of knife-wielding Chinese men. Wong was stabbed and sustained severe head injuries. He died two days later.

The next day, prosecutors said Lee sent a WhatsApp message to Yip, also known as Fei Sam, asking for information because “someone” wanted to know. Lee was also said to have sent another message on October 20 to follow up.

But senior public prosecutor William Siu said: “At all material times, the two police units to which Lee and Yip were attached … were not involved in the investigation of the murder case.”

In the eights months that followed, graft busters installed small digital audio recorders that came with transmitters inside Lee and Hung’s cars and followed them in covert surveillance, each time activating the recorder by remote once investigators saw them board their vehicles.

The recordings played in court not only revealed discussions of the murder case, but also comments on how the police, immigration and courts operate, and how the parties would split their reward.

In one recording two men were heard counting money after one male voice said: “I think we should also pay Fei Sam a small amount?”

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“I’m OK with that,” another voice replied. “Pay, we should pay. He has friends everywhere.”

The contents of these recordings were then matched with telephone call logs and WhatsApp message histories, while a voice identification and comparison expert was tasked with matching the voices.

The court heard police had identified five suspects in the murder investigation but all of them were eventually released unconditionally due to insufficient evidence.

The 20-day trial continues before judge Eddie Yip Chor-man.