The first defendant to take the witness box in Hong Kong’s body-in-cement murder trial told the court on Thursday “no one believed” in an international crime group offering a bounty of US$20 million to kill the victim.
Tsang Cheung-yan told the High Court the group, which had an imaginary hit list including the Pope and other world leaders as well as the victim and Tsang himself, was just a fantasy crafted with friends to discuss crimes they would not dare to carry out.
“No one thought it was true,” Tsang, 28, said.
Tsang, along with Keith Lau, 23, and Cheung Sin-hang, 26, pleaded not guilty to murdering Cheung Man-li – known as Ah J – in their Tsuen Wan flat on March 4, 2016.
They pleaded guilty to preventing the lawful burial of a body.
Prosecutors earlier claimed someone attacked 28-year-old Ah J in Flat 9D of the DAN6 industrial building with chloroform, before Tsang injected him with alcohol. They then put the body in a home-made “concrete coffin”.
In a recorded interview with police played for jurors earlier in the trial, Cheung Sin-hang said Tsang belonged to a group named “There” that placed a US$20 million price tag on the victim, which motivated the trio, the prosecutors said, to murder him.
There was also a “delete record list”, on which each person was given a price tag.
But Tsang said the group was originally called “T.here”, meaning that “T”, Tsang’s nickname, was here.
‘I was under influence of my flatmates’, says man accused of Hong Kong body-in-cement killing
Tsang said the group was meant to be a joke, adding he also put a price tag on himself.
He said the price associated with Ah J was a reflection of his personal worth and financial status.
Tsang accused Lau of floating the idea of robbing Ah J days before his death. The plan, he said, involved knocking Ah J out and taking his money.
He initially followed Lau’s suggestion and even went to Kwun Tong Promenade to scout for a site. He gave up on the plan after seeing several surveillance cameras.
Yet he admitted buying chloroform on the morning of March 4, prompting a question from the judge.
“I don’t understand. You disagreed [with the plan] but you were the one who bought things … for the robbery?” Mr Justice Patrick Li Hon-leung said.
Tsang replied he was the one with the money and when Li asked whether he could have lent it to the others, Tsang said: “It’s my habit not to give my money to other people.”
Body-in-cement murder suspect planned to break into victim’s safe to steal HK$10 million, Hong Kong court hears
He also said Lau forced him to inject Ah J with a type of alcohol called 151 that was 70 per cent proof.
Tsang then told the court how Lau began to look “crazy”.
“From the look in his eyes, it seemed he was asking me to do something so … I just followed what he wanted me to do,” Tsang said.
Tsang was expected to continue his testimony on Thursday afternoon.
Original article on scmp