Monday, January 09, 2012

Cross Examination in the FB Gang Rape case

The Daily Cause List 

On 24 November last year, Apple Daily has reported a news on gang rape:

"【本報訊】 20歲學生涉嫌利用社交網站 facebook獵艷,接連兩日聯同四名朋友分別邀約五名未成年女網友飲酒狂歡,更用安眠藥當解酒丸將少女迷姦。其中一名 14歲女網友一夜間慘被男生及其三名男友人輪姦。男生強姦少女後竟向男友人叫喊:「喂!接棒吖!」"
(full news here, english version here)

The news report presents a neat story with clear plot line but the truth may have been far from it, with many questions left unanswered: 
  • Who gave the sleeping pills to the girls? 
  • Did each of them know the girls have taken the sleeping pills? 
  • Did they honestly believe the girls were willing to have sex with them?

The answer for each of these question is a matter of life and death for each of the defendant. A conviction on rape can attract imprisonment for life while the maximum penalty for unlawful sexual intercourse with a girl under 16 is merely imprisonment for 5 years. 

During the cross - examination of D2 (Yeung Man - chung), his Counsel tried hard to lead him to admit indecent assault, a still lesser offence, and to create an impression that D2 was not aware of the others' acts. 

D1's Counsel, sensing this might be unfavorable to his client, questioned D2 on his knowledge of the girls at D2's home, so that D2 may also have the intention to participate the raping: 

D1's Counsel: ' In the police interview, you said you know the girl was at home with M (another D). Now here at court, you said you did not know the girl was there. Why do you contradict yourself?' 

D2: 'I was not sure at the time but later found that out'

D1's Counsel: 'So that means you've lied during the interview?' 

D2: 'No, I have just said the wrong things during the interview'. 

D1's Counsel went on to cross - examine D2 and questioned him why during the police interview, he had only his underwear when he got into the room but now at court, he said he has only changed to underwear after he got into his room. 

All in all, D1's Counsel is trying to persuade the jury that D2 knew the girl was at his home and that he has been ready to participate in the rape. 

Prosecutor, on her part, cast her net as wide as possible so that all Ds may have been liable. One strategy she employed is to charge them with conspiracy, so that all of them had consensus to set up a plan for raping the girls. In particular, she asked D4 about the drug: 

Prosecutor: 'Have you heard about the drugs for absolving alcohol (解酒丸)?' 

D4: 'Yes, I do.' 

Prosecutor: 'Where have you heard of them? From other Ds?'

D4: 'I knew about them from other friends and from TV as well. I have seen girls in bars taking them'

Prosecutor: 'At the time, do you believe the drugs are for absolving the alcohol' 

D4: 'Yes, I do'

This part of cross - examination fits into her overall strategy on the conspiracy charge and also tried to disprove D4's alleged knowledge on the drug; D4 should have known those drugs are, in fact, sleeping pills (and may have intended to lure the girls taking them for the purpose of raping them)

Cross examination is much more interesting when the 5 defendants engaged in what is known as 'cut - throat' defence - i.e. each D incriminate the other co - accused Ds for committing the crime.

D4, for example, alleged in the court that during the police interview, he tried to reduce liability by telling a false version to the police, one in which he substituted into the role of M who has sexual intercourse with one of the girls. The M's counsel will try hard to disprove this claim and find the contrary evidence during the cross examination. 

Cross - examination is the process where each lawyer will try to advance their argument for the benefits of their clients. It can hardly be a way to find the truth, as most people might believe.

* All proceedings are, of course, conducted in Cantonese. Above is all my English translation from Cantonese. 


標少 said...


I am not surprised to see the cut throat defence in this case. The defts obviously will shift the blame to others to alleviate their guilt and involvement.

Your use of "life and death" to describe the like result is exaggerated. The sentence is normally in the region of 5 years. I am unable to read the Apple Daily following your link. So I am not sure if you were in court or just reading from the news report when you made the observation.


Tso William said...

Hi Bill,

Of course, i am looking at everything in the court from a very layman and amateurish point of view. beside, i am not so sure that sentencing guideline that the court may have for rape and underage sexual intercourse.

Those are the observation I made while attending the hearing and trial and unfortunately I can't find any news source that give an overall report. you may wish to have a look here:


標少 said...


You have made good observations. Sentencing tariff takes time to remember. My general impression about sentence of rape is similar to manslaughter, 4 to 5 years is a norm on person with untarnished character. I read in one case last week the deft's attempted rape sentence of 8 years was upheld on appeal since he has similar conviction records. Sexual intercourse with girl under 16 has a wider sentencing pattern. If the deft is also young or more or less of the same age, a lenient sentence can be expected. If the deft is an adult, he will go to jail without doubt but still the incarceration will not be long.

I remember some of the facts of the case but not as detail as you have written. That is why I asked whether you were in court. I do not normally see verbatim report of cross-examination except in appeal judgment.

Keep up the good writing young man.