Macau’s top court Tuesday cleared Secretary for Administration and Justice Florinda Chan Lai Man of all wrongdoing in the so-called burial plot saga, rejecting claims that she committed the crimes of document forgery, misfeasance and abuse of power.
Based on the pre-trial hearing’s ruling by Court of Final Appeal (TUI) Judge Song Man Lei, Chan will not have to stand trial.
The case was handled by the city’s highest tribunal because of Chan’s status as one of the special administrative region’s 13 principal officials, among whom she ranks fourth.
The judge concurred with a decision by the Public Prosecution Office (MP) in January that there was not sufficient evidence to arraign Chan for the three alleged crimes. The Public Prosecution had started an investigation into the burial plots case back in 2010, following a complaint by former government employee Paulina Alves Santos.
Earlier this year, Santos took legal action against the Public Prosecution’s decision to shelve the case. Her complaint was accepted by the Court of Final Appeal, resulting in the pre-trial hearing that, according to the judge’s ruling, ended Tuesday.
Santos accused Chan of having provided the public with false information on the burial plots case in 2010. Santos also alleged that in “covering up” the case, which goes back to 2001, Chan had committed the crimes of document forgery, misfeasance and abuse of power.
Santos’ legal action is understood to have been triggered by Chan’s rejection of her request for a perpetual burial plot for her deceased brother. She also claimed that Chan was part of the Civic and Municipal Bureau’s deliberate delay in handing documents related to the burial plots case to the Public Prosecution.
According to The Macao Post Daily earlier media reports said that the saga also involved the granting of perpetual burial plots to one of Chan’s advisors.
A total of 10 perpetual burial plots were reportedly granted in December 2001 by the Provisional Municipal Council of Macau, which was replaced by the Civic and Municipal Affairs Bureau (IACM) a fortnight later.
In Tuesday’s statement the court said that its decision was unappealable.
The court ruling came just one day after the government decided to suspend IACM President Raymond Tam Vai Man and Vice President Lei Wai Nong for 90 days for alleged misfeasance in connection with the burial plots case. Tam and Lei, who have protested their innocence, are slated to stand trial soon. (macaunews)