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Body-in-cement murder case

Witness in Hong Kong body-in-cement murder trial changed statement under police influence, defence lawyer charges

He says Ho Ling-yu first accused one man of preparing chloroform-soaked panties used in the alleged murder but later pointed the finger at his client

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 April, 2018, 8:00pm
UPDATED : Monday, 16 April, 2018, 10:33pm

The young woman testifying against three men charged with killing their acquaintance and encasing his body in cement was on Monday accused by a defence lawyer of changing her witness statement under police influence.

Defence counsel Keith Oderberg, acting for one of the defendants, Keith Lau, said Ho Ling-yu initially told police it was Lau’s co-accused, Tsang Cheung-yan, who prepared a pair of chloroform-soaked panties used in the alleged murder.

Woman in Hong Kong body-in-cement murder trial was tipped off about plans to kill her, court hears

But the 20-year-old subsequently changed her mind and accused his client of pouring chloroform on the panties, Oderberg said.

Lau, 23, Tsang, 28 and Cheung Sin-hang, 25, have denied murdering Cheung Man-li, 28, also known as Ah J, for money in a Tsuen Wan flat on March 4, 2016.

Ho was the three defendants’ flatmate at Flat 9D in the DAN6 industrial building. She has been granted immunity from prosecution in exchange for being a witness.

Prosecutors alleged that someone attacked Ah J with a pair of black panties soaked with chloroform, before Tsang injected him with alcohol, and his body was encased in cement.

The trio have pleaded not guilty to one count of conspiring to murder, but admitted to a charge of preventing the lawful burial of Cheung Man-li’s body.

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On Monday, the fifth day of the trial, Oderberg said to Ho: “I put it to you bluntly that the officers asked you questions in such a way that [Lau] was the one who poured the chloroform, not [Tsang] as previously stated.”

The counsel said during the six video interviews that police conducted with Ho, she pointed the finger at Tsang. But in two later witness statements, she said it was Lau who did it.

Ho hit back at Oderberg’s accusation and said that she was initially confused about the details of events but as time went by, was able to more clearly recollect what had happened.

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When pressed whether police had “caused” her to change her account, she said: “I don’t know.”

The defence counsel also put to Ho that although she claimed she saw Lau preparing and holding a pair of panties before the alleged murder, as she did not witness the crime, she could only assume that those were the panties the prosecutors referred to.

Ho agreed.

Oderberg also questioned Ho’s memory after she took a look at some documents used in the trial but could not say when she had last seen them.

“Why is that you can confidently talk to this jury about times, dates, places and people [from] two years ago, and you now can’t say when you last read the statements?” he asked.

A tearful Ho, referring to the crime, said: “Even if I want to forget, I can’t.”

Witness in Hong Kong body-in-cement murder trial did not go to police ‘because she feared defendants would kill her too’

The court heard earlier that the trio made Ho flee with them to Taiwan. Oderberg said Lau had told her she should not go with them but he could not do anything about it as it was Tsang’s idea.

The counsel also said it was Tsang who asked Ho not to report the matter to police and told her that he had an uncle who could frame her if she did not follow them to Taiwan, a point that Ho agreed with.

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