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Chinese Lawyer hits out at China trial for Australian businessman

Posted by Author on August 10, 2011

(The Age)- AUSTRALIAN businessman Matthew Ng broke down in a Chinese court yesterday as he told how police had promised they would let him go if he handed over control of his multimillion-dollar company.

Mr Ng’s dramatic testimony corroborates claims by shareholders and supporters that his arrest was a ”shakedown” by Guangzhou’s most powerful state-owned company, Lingnan, along with a corrupt police force, procurator and court.

Mr Ng was taken by seven plain-clothes police from the basement of his home, in front of his wife and five-year-old daughter, in November last year just days after acrimonious commercial negotiations with Lingnan executives.
He faces four charges of embezzlement, misstatement of company capital and bribery.

Mr Ng looked pale yesterday and wore a prison-issued pale blue T-shirt and shorts. His legs were roped together.

He and co-accused Zheng Hong refused to concede charges that had been jointly levelled at them.

The prosecution spent most of yesterday morning reading through a trolley full of company documents.

Mr Ng’s star lawyer, Chen Youxi, intervened on several occasions to request that the prosecutor provide a list of what the documents were. He asked why defence lawyers were given no time to read them and what connection they had to the case.

Mr Chen detailed a series of irregularities on his personal website, which has so far received 33 million visits. ”I really cry for my motherland when I imagine the heavy coverage in the Australian media,” he wrote, after setting out a series of irregularities.

”We lawyers have tried our best to protect the image of the Chinese judicial system, but how can we retrieve it when you are committed to such self-destruction?” he said, referring to the conduct of the case against his client.

Outside court Mr Chen was asked if the prosecutor was incompetent. He replied that the problems ran much deeper.

”If a cook has been given no vegetables, no rice and no flour, then there is nothing they can do to make the food taste good,” he said.

Just after dawn yesterday, a dozen officials from Guangzhou

Lingnan – the state-owned company that Mr Ng has been feuding with – lined up at the court building gate to ensure that a dozen Chinese and Australian journalists would not find a seat.

Lingnan executives lowered their heads and either did not answer questions or said they could not speak standard Chinese. ”Don’t blame me, it’s the way the court arranged it,” said a security officer.

The theatre continued inside the courtroom as the judge threatened to remove Australian consul-general Grant Dooley for disturbing order because his interpreter was whispering into his ear.

Not one representative of the Australian media was allowed into the 20-seat courtroom, despite forceful protests by the Australian government the previous day.

Mr Ng spoke with his wife for the first time in nine months as he was led into the courtroom.

”He asked me if we could apply for a meeting after trial, but I told him the embassy had already applied for this and it was not permitted,” said Mr Ng’s wife, Niki Chow.

”I didn’t say anything else because they would have led me out of court,” she added. ”But … I can see from his eyes that he is confident and calm and willing to defend himself.”

Mr Ng’s sister, Ng Lizhen, said: ”The main issue, the whole process and the four charges against Matthew are about Lingnan wanting to get the company back” With.

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