Wednesday, October 22, 2014   




Four deadly questions left unanswered

Thursday, March 24, 2011

In what is a first in Hong Kong's legal history, the coroner's jury was asked to answer "yes," "no" or "uncertain" to 44 statements describing the circumstances of the eight deaths in a narrative verdict.

They answered "yes" to 40 of them but were uncertain with four of them.

Two of these were whether tour guide Masa Tse, 31, and Jessie Leung Song- yi, 14, could have been saved if they had received proper treatment within 30 minutes of being shot.

The questions were probably prompted by the evidence of one expert witness who said the two had a high probability of being saved had they received emergency treatment.

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His evidence, however, contradicted two pathologists who believed the two would have died within minutes given the areas struck by the high-caliber bullets.

The third statement involved who was in charge of the command post during the shootout since the key persons in charge of efforts to free the hostages, including Manila mayor Alfredo Lim, had left the scene to have dinner at a restaurant even after the first warning shot was fired by Rolando Mendoza.

The last revolved around the question of whether Mendoza had said at 2pm on the fateful day that he would release all hostages an hour later.

But their "yes" to most of the statements confirmed that various failures in the operation had contributed to the tragic outcome.

The jurors said in their verdict that on at least three occasions, Mendoza had been within shooting range of snipers who were concealed around the tour bus.

Also the hostage-taker warned at least 10 times during telephone interviews with journalists that he would start shooting the hostages.

Coroner's Court officer Jat Sew-tong said the fact jurors could not agree on the four statements did not alter their decision on the causes of the eight deaths.

"The uncertainty expressed by the jury in some statements might not mean the circumstances were not true. It might have suggested some conclusions could not be reached beyond a reasonable doubt merely on the evidence submitted to the court." NATALIE WONG


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