Former star horse trainer loses electoral bribery appeal

Updated: 2012-11-24 07:02

By Joseph Li(HK Edition)

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Retired champion horse trainer Brian Kan Ping-chee lost his appeal on Friday against a conviction for electoral corruption.

Although Kan's counsel said that Kan intended to appeal, the court refused bail and ordered Kan to begin serving the remainder of his 14-week jail sentence immediately.

Kan, 75, remained calm as he stood in the dock to hear the oral judgment. His two sons remained tight-lipped as they left court, ignoring questions from the media as to whether they thought the judgment is too harsh.

In March 2011, Kan was prosecuted for offering a bribe of HK$130,000 in cash - 130 HK$1,000 banknotes - to Liu Fu-sau, a village representative of the Sheung Shui Rural Committee, as an inducement for Liu to vote for him in the rural committee chairmanship election. Kan eventually lost the election.

Kan was convicted in the Fanling Magistrate's Court and handed a 14-week jail sentence in December, 2011. He spent about three weeks in jail, during which time he passed his 74th birthday while awaiting appeal .

During the appeal, Kan said in his defence that he was framed by Liu and those who were his election rivals. Kan argued that the prosecution had insufficient evidence to prove the HK$130,000 left behind in Liu's convenience store was an inducement for Liu's ballot. He also argued that the magistrate had erroneously rejected evidence of a defense expert that Kan's fingerprints could not be identified on any of the banknotes and thus it would be unsafe to convict the accused.

In dismissing the appeal, Justice Derek Pang of the Court of First Instance expressed regret that the judgment of the original trial was less than well-organized, while the testimony of Liu and his wife were a bit inconsistent.

Justice Pang, however, said the magistrate had not erred by accepting the evidence of Liu and his wife and rejecting the expert evidence. He also said the prosecution had fulfilled the minimal burden of proof for conviction.

The court doubted Kan had been framed, noting that the Liu couple gave spotty testimony and were unable to recall even basic facts, including the date and time at which the incident took place or even how the banknotes were packed. The judge said it would be easy for the couple to collude if they really wanted to lie.

The judge also found it difficult to construe how the money left behind by Kan in Liu's convenience store could be considered as anything other than a bribe.

After Justice Pang had handed down the judgment, Kan's lawyer applied for bail pending an appeal to the Court of Final Appeal. The judge refused, saying there remained no important question of law to merit bail.

(HK Edition 11/24/2012 page1)