A girl who accused her father of rape and indecent assault was taken by her mother to mainland China before she could testify against him, then persuaded by other family members to change her evidence when his trial was rescheduled, a Hong Kong court has heard.
Prosecutors on Monday opened their case against five of the girl's family members - her 44-year-old father, 42-year-old mother, 65-year-old paternal grandfather, 67-year-old paternal grandmother and 39-year-old uncle - all of whom stand accused of perverting the course of justice.
None of them can be identified following a gag order aimed at protecting the girl, referred to in court only as X.
The High Court heard the case began on October 14, 2017 when the mother brought then 13-year-old X to Sheung Shui Police Station to file a complaint of sexual abuse against her father.
The father was charged and remanded in custody pending trial on two counts of rape and five of indecent assault, with proceedings set to begin in the High Court on October 25, 2018.
Both the girl and her mother were summoned as prosecution witnesses, but neither showed up to take the stand.
Investigations revealed that the mother had visited the father at Lai Chi Kok Reception Centre on October 20 and left for Shenzhen that afternoon with her daughter in tow.
A warrant was issued for the mother's arrest and she was intercepted upon returning to the city with X via the Lok Ma Chau checkpoint on November 4.
When the girl finally testified on January 21, 2019, she agreed under cross-examination by her father's defense counsel that he did not rape or indecently assault her. She also agreed with suggestions that she had fabricated evidence in a pre-recorded video interview.
The trial judge subsequently ruled that the father had no case to answer, directed the jury to acquit him of all charges, and released him.
She also asked police to follow up on the welfare of the girl and her younger brother.
The next day, prosecutor Flora Cheng Suk-yee said, the girl told her case officer that her paternal grandparents and uncle had contacted her before she testified. She also reportedly explained why she had left Hong Kong.
Cheng said police gathered visitation logs and seized recordings from the reception center and learned that the mother, the grandparents and the uncle had repeatedly visited the father, who gave them instructions with the aim of changing the girl's evidence.
The parents and the grandmother were arrested on January 23, while the grandfather and uncle were arrested a week later.
Under caution, the father said: "I didn't do it."
Both parents have pleaded not guilty to one count of doing an act tending and intended to pervert the course of public justice, while the father, uncle and grandparents have denied another count of conspiracy to pervert the course of public justice.
The girl is expected to testify when the jury trial continues before Mr Justice Alex Lee Wan-tang on Tuesday.
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