Hong Kong court denies bail to subcontractor charged with manslaughter over deaths of 2 workers in gas-filled underground tube


A Hong Kong court has denied bail to a 62-year-old subcontractor who was charged with manslaughter over the deaths of two colleagues in a toxic gas-filled tube at an underground site managed by the MTR Corporation.

Shum Yuk-kuen, director of Shum Development Limited, was escorted to Kowloon City Court on Friday to face a count of manslaughter over what prosecutors said was the “unlawful killing” of the pair at a site in the West Kowloon Cultural District.

A charge sheet available for press inspection did not specify whether the offence was a result of gross negligence or an unlawful act, but prosecutors alleged in court that Shum omitted occupational safety rules when carrying out the underground project.

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Principal Magistrate Don So Man-lung granted a prosecution request to adjourn the case for more than 12 weeks pending a police investigation into the incident.

Investigators would examine evidence seized at the scene, review security footage and take witness statements from those involved while awaiting autopsy reports, the court heard.

The magistrate rejected Shum’s bail application after hearing submissions from parties. The subcontractor is expected to appear in court again in late December.

Officers have upgraded the industrial accident case to one of manslaughter. Photo: Jelly Tse

The two workers, Lau Ho-cheong, 63, and Kwok For-kee, 61, died on Sunday after being trapped in the underground tube for more than 12 hours at a construction site beneath the Lyric Theatre Complex at 1 Austin Road West.

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Authorities were unable to contact Shum after a report was filed to police. The subcontractor was arrested at around 1am on Wednesday after entering a police station.

The force initially arrested Shum over breaching the Occupational Safety and Health Ordinance, but upgraded the allegation to one of manslaughter after further inquiries.

Investigators survey the site in the West Kowloon Cultural District. Photo: Jelly Tse

Police on Thursday also arrested a 40-year-old project manager of the main contractor, who had earlier assisted in the investigation, on suspicion of manslaughter. He was detained for further questioning.

On the same day, the force reclassified the industrial accident as manslaughter.

A concern group has called for authorities to require all contractors to report operations in confined spaces and step up site checks.


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