Six of the eight people charged with the murder of Hong Kong millionaire Lam Hon-lit were found guilty yesterday at Shenzhen Intermediate People's Court, a defense lawyer for the case said.
"According to the first trial verdict made by the court, hired assassins Yang Wen and Zhang Zhixin were sentenced to death and 13 years in prison, respectively. The alleged masterminds of the murder, Yeung Ka-on, Tse Bing and Lau Yat-yin were sentenced to life imprisonment," Wang Limin, Yang's defense lawyer, said.
"Wu Weiwu, Yang's former army colleague who was accused of providing shelter for Yang, was sentenced to three years in prison, while Yeung's nephew Ho Haw-foo and his driver Tsui Ming-yeung were found not guilty," Wang said.
"Overall the verdict is fair and the results are satisfactory," he said.
"Yang is the person who directly killed Lam, so the death sentence is fair."
As for Yeung, Tse and Lau, Wang said the life sentences were also fair.
"The three of them, especially Yeung, were the masterminds behind the murder but because they were not the ones who directly caused Lam's death it is understandable that instead of the death penalty they were given life sentences," Wang said.
Some of Wang's peers had previously said Yeung should also be given the death sentence.
Wang told China Daily he would soon go to speak with Yang at the Shenzhen detention center.
"We will find out whether Yang wants to make an appeal to the court," he said. "If any of them pleads not guilty in the next 10 days the court will have to proceed to a second trial."
He described the next 10 days as "critical for the case".
Fifty-four-year-old Lam, then director of Hong Kong-based Digger Holdings and an investor in Shenzhen's Mission Hills Golf Club, was murdered on November 30, 2002, with a single bullet to the head while at the Luk Yu Teahouse in Hong Kong's Central district.
His killer was 27-year-old Yang Wen, a native of Hunan Province, who was aided by his 22-year-old accomplice, Zhang.
A police investigation found that Yeung, then chairman of a Hong Kong business group and former actor in the popular TV kung fu drama series Huo Yuanjia, was "the man who wanted Lam dead", and so hired 47-year-old Lau Yat-yin to kill him.
Police said Lau, who is the former head of Hong Kong's "Hunan Gangsters", then gave HK$2 million (US$256,000) and a picture of Lam to 47-year-old Tse Bing, his former subordinate, and asked him to "find people" to kill Lam.
Tse, who is also from Hong Kong, later hired Yang and Zhang in Shenzhen, paying them HK$400,000 to travel to Hong Kong to kill Lam, police said.
Lam's murder made headlines on both the mainland and in Hong Kong.
The two police forces worked together to apprehend the suspects, which they succeeded in doing at the end of 2005.
Media from the mainland and Hong Kong were refused entry to the courthouse yesterday for security reasons.
(China Daily July 11, 2007)