The graft trial of former chief prosecutor Ho Chio Meng, which had been scheduled to start at the Court of Final Appeal (TUI) on Monday morning, has been postponed by the court sine die because of an appeal by the defence against the participation of the president of the court, Sam Hou Fai, in the trial.
According to the TUI statement on Friday, Ho’s defence has requested Sam’s exclusion from the trial because the latter allowed the city’s graft busters access to the income and assets declarations of Ho and his wife when they were investigating the case. The defence also wants Sam to be barred from the trial because he chaired a hearing about Ho’s – unsuccessful – habeas corpus bid.
Ho has been in pre-trial detention since March. According to a TUI statement last month, Ho faces 1,970 charges including fraud, abuse of power, money laundering, illicit participation in business activities, document forgery and membership of a criminal organisation.
The statement said that the new trial date would be announced in due course by the court’s secretariat.
Ho will be tried by the city’s top court because of his former position as a principal official of the Macau Special Administrative Region (MSAR). His nine co-defendants will be tried separately by the Court of First Instance (TJB) whose trial has been scheduled for February.
Ho, who had headed the Public Prosecution Office since the establishment of the MSAR on December 20, 1999, is the second principal official to be tried by the city’s top court.
Former secretary for transport and public works Ao Man Long is serving a 29-year prison term for corruption, abuse of power, money laundering and other crimes.
Ho was the first chief prosecutor of Macau following its reversion from Portuguese to Chinese rule in 1999. He served in his position until December 20, 2014 but continued to work for the Public Prosecution Office in a senior position until his arrest on February 26th.