Lam asks Duterte about jailed HK men

Local | Cindy Wan 4 Jan 2019

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has personally written a letter to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, expressing her concerns about four Hongkongers who were sentenced to life imprisonment for a drug offense.

The quartet - Lo Wing-fai, 44, Chan Kwok-tung, 31, Kwok Kam-wah, 49, Leung Shu-fook, 51 - were convicted of possessing 467.8 grams of methamphetamine at the Olongapo City Regional Trial Court on December 14 last year.

Their lawyer filed a writ to the court in a bid to overturn the conviction.

A spokeswoman for Lam's office said the Chief Executive attaches great importance to protecting the rights of Hongkongers overseas and she wrote a letter to Duterte on Wednesday to voice her concerns.

The Security Bureau and Immigration Department will continue communicating with the Liaison Office and the Chinese Embassy in the Philippines to provide assistance, she said.

Meanwhile, Philippine authorities are also gearing up to appeal the decision of the court, which ruled the four Hongkongers innocent of the charge of manufacturing illegal drugs, according to lawmaker James To Kun-sun.

To, who has been helping the four families, said Lam may have read the court appeal document that he submitted to the Security Bureau before she wrote Duterte.

He said political considerations might have prompted Lam's letter not being made public.

To said Lam may have expressed her worries over the case and may have requested that the quartet be treated adequately. The four men were arrested in July 2016 on a fishing boat near Subic, a coastal municipality north of Manila. It is understood methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia were seized on the boat.

The quartet claimed innocence, saying police found nothing during an initial search. But police later said they discovered drugs wrapped in a brown paper bag in Leung's backpack.

A news reporter's video showed police took everything out of Leung's backpack, but it seemed no brown paper bag was in it.

The four Hongkongers claimed losing sight of the backpack and police later said they found drugs.

They were sentenced to life in prison for possession of drugs.

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