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All former Pegasus players ruled not guilty in match-fixing scandal

Four former Pegasus players – Kwok Kin-pong, Cheng Lai-him, Chan Pak-hang and Lee Ka-ho – were all found not guilty on Thursday, April 19th, on charges regarding match-fixing. Meanwhile former coach Lee Wai-lim pleaded guilty earlier in January and the court will decide his fate later.

Previously, the prosecution tried to prove that coach Lee Wai-lim allegedly instructed Wu Chun-ming and Wong Wai before a reserve match against Rangers in February 2016 not to score a goal in the first 15 minutes, and that they should only try to score after Lee put on the hood of his jacket. Coach Lee then instructed Wong Wai to score three goals in the second half, which Wong denied he had followed. Later, Lee was allegedly seen receiving a plastic bag with HK$20,000 in cash from Rangers defender Liu Songwei. In another reserve match against Rangers, Wong Wai supposedly received similar instructions, this time to lose the match on purpose once Lee put on his hood, promising a reward of HK$15,000 to the player, which Wong refused. As the Pegasus reserves still won the game, Liu Songwei was allegedly furious and demanded afterwards that somebody had to be held responsible, urging some players to pay a compensation of HK$10,000. As for Lee Ka-ho, the prosecution stated that he scored an own goal in one of the matches and was heard saying “It was not easy to do so”.

When Wong Wai testified in court in January, he stated that during a reserve match against Yuen Long, he received instructions from captain Kwok Kin-pong such as “don’t score” and “don’t attack” in February 2016. Pegasus were awarded a penalty kick later in the game, which Kwok missed. On the next day, Wong Wai allegedly received a reward of HK$10,000 in cash from Cheng Lai-him, which Wong handed to the ICAC while reporting the case. However, Wong Wai admitted he did spend some of the reward and only decided to report it after having dinner with his mentor Lee Chi-kin. However, as Wong Wai frequently forgot details about his testimony, the defense started to question the role of the ICAC in drafting the statement.

On Thursday, while giving his verdict, district judge Edmond Lee stated that Wong Wai’s testimony was very crucial in this case. However, a number of incidents during and before the hearing made the judge doubt its accuracy. In particular, the 1000-word statement was taken in eleven minutes by ICAC officers, which the judge deemed as unusual, comparing it to Wu’s similarly long statement which followed a 2-hour interview. As a result, Cheng Lai-him and Chan Pak-hang were both ruled not guilty.

Meanwhile, the Judge believed that Kwok Kin-pong’s instructions to Wong Wai, such as “don’t score” were normal as Kwok was the captain of the team, and there was no evidence that Kwok’s missed penalty in the game was intentional. For charges against Lee Ka-ho, the judge stated that he was not able to determine whether Lee Ka-ho’s own goal was intentional and that his comment may have only been a joke, so he was also ruled not guilty.

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