A Hong Kong legal clerk accused of conspiring to pervert the course of justice in a drug trafficking case that saw the defendant handed a 23-year sentence, which was later overturned, has indicated that he will plead guilty to the charge.

Paul Chan appeared at the District Court in front of Judge Lily Wong on Tuesday.

district court
Photo: Almond Li/HKFP.

Chan and barrister Dorothy Cheung stand accused of conspiring to pervert the course of justice in 2017, in a drug trafficking case which led to the conviction of Ma Ka-kin.

According to his lawyer, Chan intended to plead guilty to the charge. Wong adjourned the case to August 24 for the defendant to formally enter his plea. Chan, who has been in remand, was granted bail briefly last April to handle his father’s funeral.

The legal clerk was hired as part of Ma’s legal team after the then-20-year-old was charged for attempted drug trafficking.

Ma in 2016 allowed Hung Chi-him, a colleague at a ramen restaurant, to use his address for delivery of a parcel. Customs later found HK$1.9 million worth of cocaine inside the package.

After no one collected the package following several delivery attempts, a mail collection notification card was sent to Ma’s address. Ma was then instructed to give the card to a person at Po Lam MTR station in return for HK$1,000.

Both Ma and Hung were charged in relation to the drugs found in the parcel, while Hung was given a further charge after Customs officers found 20 packets of cocaine at his home.

Lily Wong
Lily Wong. Photo: Judiciary.

Hung’s brother hired a legal team to represent Ma, which included Chan. After receiving advice from the team, Ma signed a declaration in March 2017 saying that he had decided to plead guilty provided that all charges against Hung were dropped.

Ma was sentenced to 23 years in jail in 2019 after being found guilty by a High Court jury, however, his conviction and sentence were overturned by three High Court judges in 2021.

In the 2021 ruling, the panel of three judges – Andrew Macrae, Derek Pang, and Kevin Zervos – criticised the city’s Department of Justice.

“Whatever happened in this case does not reflect well on the legal profession or the legal system.”

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Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.