Chang’s defense says Prosecution roundly failed to prove accusation

The defense lawyer of former Macao Trade and Investment Promotion Institute (IPIM) president Jackson Chang has refuted the Public Prosecution’s statements made during the closing statements phase of the trial of the case involving several IPIM officials accused of crimes related to the unlawful granting of Macau residency permits.
In the closing statements, which started yesterday, the lawyer defending Chang, Álvaro Rodrigues, refuted the multiple claims made by the Prosecutor that all the crimes that the defendants are accused of have been proven during the trial.
Rodrigues disagreed profoundly with such statements, asking facetiously if the prosecutors had been in the same courtroom as him over the past weeks.
For the lawyer, not only has the Prosecution not been able to present any proof of the accusations they brought against the defendants, let alone against Chang, but they also made several mistakes and flaws in their accusations.
Among such flaws, the lawyer noted that the prosecution has made use of the same facts to accuse his client of different crimes. These facts included the crime of paying support to a criminal organization, which he claimed the prosecution only included in its case because they believe “my client got a lot of money from Ng Kuok Sao somehow.”
According to Rodrigues, the prosecution has not been able to prove any of the benefits they claim Chang received for “helping the group,” nor had it been able to prove any wrongdoing in the information that Chang passed to his daughter, which is at the core of the accusations to Chang.
Rodrigues recalled that Chang, while president of IPIM, forwarded a total of 65 cases to the Public Prosecutions Office for suspecting forged documents and false declarations in the information submitted to IPIM by the applicant from the same scheme. The lawyer pointed to this, which he said could be proven with documents and testimonies, unlike the facts of the prosecution.
To the charges that Chang was part of a criminal organization, his lawyer also noted that according to the Macau law provisions, to be considered as such, a criminal organization must, “constitute a danger to society just by existing and independently of actively committing crimes or not.” He went on to note that the Prosecution’s claims about the existence of such an organization lack both justification and proof.
Addressing the crimes of passive corruption, the lawyer noted that the crimes were only evidenced by the “lai si” allegedly received by Chang from Ng. However, they are of an uncertain amount, received on an unknown occasion, and allegedly to repay unknown favors. Summarizing, Rodrigues claimed that what the prosecution has on Chang are just assumptions not based on any evidence.
Trying to undermine the theory expressed by the Public Prosecution, Chang’s lawyer said that the money Chang possessed in cash, which he lent to a friend as well as to acquire watches for his wife and son as gifts, could easily have come from his bank accounts, salary or from a mortgage that Chang held on one of his properties.
In his long closing statements that lasted for over two hours, the lawyer protested several times that the Prosecution’s case was “full of flaws” and put in the hands of the defense lawyers the task to make the “burden of proof,” something that should not happen if the court follows the golden rule of the presumption of innocence on the part of defendants.
Concluding his remarks, Chang’s lawyer recalled the testimony of several important witnesses, such as the chief of the investigation by the Committee Against Corruption (CCAC) who admitted on several occasion during his testimony that the body was unable to ascertain certain facts or gather conclusive proof, such as the illegality of the cash used by Chang.
“With this loose way of producing proof, we arrested an innocent man,” Rodrigues said, claiming that the Prosecution, in the attempt to charge Chang for crimes that have a higher punishment under the penal framework, forgot logic and good sense.
In one of the many examples he drew upon, the lawyer noted the crime count, pointing out that Chang is accused of several counts of the same crime, instead of the same crime continued over time “in an attempt to make my client look bad in the eyes of the community.”
Calling for an acquittal for Chang of all charges, the lawyer said that even if the court finds his client guilty of any wrongdoing, his penalty should be of a fine and not prison time, as Chang was held in pre-trial imprisonment for over one year, a measure that the lawyer considered “unfair, unfounded and unfortunate.”
Earlier, the Prosecutor reviewed the facts of the case, saying that the contacts, phone records, and border crossing records of Chang and Ng put them in the same place at the same time on several occasions, which proves their long-term relationship and collaboration.
The Prosecution focused on the alleged benefits that Chang got from Ng, also accusing him of, in the position of president of IPIM, making use of his power to pass confidential information over time to the “group” that would help them to grant to their clients a successful application for residency under favorable conditions.
According to the Prosecution, Chang violated his duties of confidentiality, namely in disclosing the ceiling of 13 million patacas as the minimum for an application for relevant investment, as he informed his daughter of this when at the time she was working in a company owned by Ng.
Although it was proven that Chang’s wife and daughter were legally employed by Ng and performed work in the company, the Prosecution claims that the salaries both received (around 15,000 patacas a month) were a way of granting kickbacks to Chang and part of an elaborate scheme to hide the bribes.
The trial session resumes today with more defense lawyers presenting their closing statements on the case that comprises a total of 26 defendants.
According to the scheduling of the court, all final arguments should be concluded by today with the court stopping for summer holidays and resuming only in September.

Categories Headlines Macau