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Former secretary of Macao sentenced to 27 years in jail
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The Court of Final Appeal of Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR) Wednesday sentenced former SAR Secretary for Public Works and Transport Ao Man Long to 27 years in jail.

According to the verdict, the 51-year-old is guilty of 57 of the 76 charges, which include corruption, money laundering, abuse of power and related crimes. In addition, the court also ruled that Ao's illicitly acquired assets be confiscated by the SAR government.

"The court has ruled (on the case) in accordance with the law, I think it is fair enough," said Chief Executive Edmund Ho Hau Wah after being notified of the verdict.

But Ao's lawyer Nuno Simones, interviewed by TDM (Television of Macao) when leaving the court, said the 27-year sentence is too heavy for his client.

Ao Man Long is the highest official ever charged with corruption in the SAR. Due to his seniority, Ao was tried by a three-judge panel at the Court of Final Appeal.

Ao was arrested in December 2006, and was charged with 76 counts of crimes. His trial began in November last year and concluded about a month later at the Court of Final Appeal, in which some 100 witnesses were called in by the attorney general.

Macao's Commission against Corruption said in a press statement released on Wednesday that the verdict delivered by the court reflects the seriousness of the crimes committed by Ao and the punishment he deserves, and the commission will continue investigation on other cases involving Ao.

The trial of the money laundering case involving Ao's four family members also started on Jan. 14. The four defendants include Ao's father, Ao Veng Kong, Ao's wife Chan Meng Ieng, brother Ao Man Fu and his sister-in-law Ao Chan Wa Choi.

They are charged with six to 14 counts of money laundering activities after allegedly receiving bribes from businessmen Ho Meng Fai, Chan Tong Sang and Frederico Nolasco da Silva.

The prosecutor alleged that the money was deposited in off- shore shell companies when Ao Man Long was still serving as the secretary for public works and transport and before he was detained by the Commission against Corruption on Dec. 6, 2006.

(Xinhua News Agency January 31, 2008)

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