Ao refuses to testify at trial

Friday, May 16, 2008
Issue 345, Page 3
Word count: 416
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

Yesterday’s second hearing of the new trial of Ao Man Long’s family and a construction company ended after 20 minutes yesterday when Ao, called as the first witness, exercised his right to decline to testify.

The court case, related to money laundering and bribery charges of the former secretary’s father Ao Veng Kong, brother Ao Man Fu and sister-in-law Ao Chan Wa Choi as well as Tong Lei Engineering and Construction Ltd, began at the Court of First Instance on Wednesday.

As the first day of the hearing saw all five defendants respond to the prosecutor and lawyers’ questions, witnesses were called yesterday beginning with Ao Man Long, who was the only witness scheduled to testify.

As Ao is an immediate family member of the three defendants, the court was told the witness chose to exercise his legal right not to testify.

Prosecutor Chan Zi King then requested Ao to only answer questions in relation to other defendants from Tong Lei Ltd, however this was not supported by the defense citing the accusations of all seven defendants were “intertwined”.

The judging-panel, comprised of the court’s president Tam Hio Wa, judges Jeronimo Goncalves Santos and Lou Ieng Ha, ruled in favour of the defense after a 10-minute closed discussion.

The president said as one of the main elements of money laundering was “receiving money from illegitimate sources” and such sources were linked to the bribery charges of Tong Lei Ltd, facts stated in the indictment could not be divided and the ex-secretary was waived from testifying for the trial.

The second day of the hearing was concluded before 10.10am and Ao Man Long was sent back to the prison in Coloane to continue to sit out his 27-year sentence.

Other witnesses will be called on Wednesday and Thursday next week.

Owner of Tong Lei Ltd, Tang Kim Man and his secretary Lao Chon Hong remained absent from the court, while the construction company’s project manager Lo Chi Cheong and former shareholder Leong Chio Tong chose to make their appearances and pleaded not guilty to their bribery allegations.

Ao Veng Kong was granted permission to avoid future hearings after the first one on Wednesday due to health reasons.

Ao Man Fu, Ao Chan Wa Choi and Ao Veng Kong are still awaiting the verdict of the earlier trial which concluded last month which saw them accused together with businessmen Ho Meng Fai, Chan Tong Sang and former CSR director Frederico Nolasco da Silva of money laundering and bribery.

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