Who really killed Hong Kong’s body-in-cement murder victim?
Suspects pointed the finger at each other as police tried to uncover truth behind brutal killing in Tsuen Wan flat
Cheung Man-li was a 28-year-old man poised to buy his first home with his girlfriend when had his life brutally cut short on March 4, 2016. His body was fused into a slab of concrete in a private residence in Tsuen Wan.
The trial of three men accused of murdering Cheung began on Tuesday, a little more than two years after his death, with prosecutors alleging that Tsang Cheung-yan, 28, Keith Lau, 23, and Cheung Sin-hang, 25, killed him together at a flat the three shared.
But who actually initiated the attack on Cheung Man-li?
In the early stages of the investigation all three defendants pointed the finger of blame at each other.
It was alleged Tsang owed money to the victim. The prosecutors also said Tsang told the others they stood to gain financially if they killed Cheung.
Police believe the unemployed trio attacked Cheung, known as “Ah J”, in Flat 9D of the DAN6 industrial building. The prosecution argue the victim had his mouth covered with panties soaked in chloroform before being injected with alcohol.
His body was encased in moulded concrete and the defendants used air-freshener to mask the smell in the flat.
On Tuesday, as well as laying out their case, prosecutors revealed more of what happened before the trial began.
The three defendants, seated behind the dock and separated by a single prison officer each, had not presented a united front when they were first arrested and interviewed by police.
This, according to prosecutors, is what they said:
Tsang Cheung-yan, nicknamed “Ah T”
Tsang, who said he and Cheung had known each other for almost a decade, admitted to having done business with the victim in the past and that they had a dispute over some loans.
On the day of the murder, Tsang said, he was on the second floor of the flat when Cheung Man-li arrived, and stayed there until he heard Cheung Sin-hang swearing at someone.
At that point, Tsang said, Cheung Sin-hang asked him to go downstairs, which he did.
Tsang said he saw Lau lying on top of Cheung Man-li, with Cheung Sin-hang underneath. Lau covered the victim’s mouth with chloroform and told Tsang to fetch a syringe and bottle of alcohol from the second floor.
Tsang accused Lau of asking him to inject Cheung Man-li with alcohol and said Lau was behind the whole thing.
He admitted the trio had bought various objects in the days that followed, such as nails, wooden boards and air-freshener.
He said he realised the killing had caused huge trouble but was too afraid to report the matter to police.
Keith Lau, “Ah Ho”
In his interview, Lau claimed it was Tsang and Cheung Sin-hang who killed Cheung Man-li and he had only helped afterwards because he was afraid of facing the same charges.
On March 4, Lau said, he saw the victim struggling with Cheung Sin-hang. Lau said it was Cheung Sin-hang, lying below the victim, who administered the chloroform.
He said Tsang, who he accused of buying the chloroform, then came down from the second floor with a syringe and a bottle of alcohol and injected the victim in the knee about four times.
Lau said since he had to go to Singapore for a dance competition the following day, he asked the others to deal with the body.
When he returned on March 7, he said, the cement was almost dry. However, Lau recalled blood kept dripping out of the “coffin”.
On March 8, Lau said, they tried to remove the cement block from the flat but it was too heavy to go in the lift. He said at that point they bought electric drills to break it up.
Cheung Sin-hang, “Ah K or KK”
Cheung said that before Cheung Man-li’s death, the trio had talked about robbing him by hitting him on the head near a pier in Kwun Tong.
He said he and Lau had challenged Tsang over the point of killing Cheung Man-li if there were no financial gains.
He said Tsang told them they would be rewarded with a hefty sum by an international criminal gang.
On the day of the killing, he said, the victim was looking at some documents when Lau attacked him. He admitted helping Lau, but stressed it was Lau who covered Cheung Man-li’s mouth with chloroform while sitting on top of him.
He recalled Tsang coming down from the upper floor to help and said it was Tsang who injected the victim with alcohol.
Cheung Sin-hang claimed he was the only one who had tried resuscitating Cheung Man-li, although he admitted he had prepared the panties by pouring chloroform on them.