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Macau Crime Boss Trial Ends

April 23, 1999

MACAU (AP) _ The trial of a reputed Chinese crime boss ended today with witness after witness denying any knowledge of his alleged attempt to intimidate gaming table workers at Macau’s biggest casino.

The lead judge admitted outside the courtroom that the case was hampered by witnesses’ refusal to testify against Wan Kuok-koi, alias ``Broken Tooth Koi,″ allegedly a boss in the notorious 14K Chinese triad in the Portuguese-held enclave Macau.

``Usually in cases like this, witnesses have a hard time coming forward,″ said Judge Joao Torrao, who is presiding over a three-judge panel that will deliver verdicts Thursday.

Wan, 44, is accused of trying to muscle Lisboa casino employees into quitting work at a Chinese dominoes table run by rival gambling figure Lau Wing-kung in hopes of harming Lau’s business. The coercion charge carries a penalty of up to five years in prison.

Macau’s casinos have seen profits dwindle amid Asia’s economic crisis, and gangs have been fighting over what’s left. Macau, 40 miles west of Hong Kong, reverts later this year from Portuguese to Chinese rule.

Like witnesses the day before, no one who testified Friday seemed to know anything about any coercion attempts by Wan.

``I don’t remember,″ testified Antonio Garcia, a government casino inspector who averted his eyes from Wan when asked about the night the reputed crime boss came into the Lisboa and allegedly threatened the table’s workers in October 1996.

The prosecution’s main evidence is a security camera video showing Wan and about 10 others in the Lisboa. Wan was shown with a co-defendant, Leung Weng-sang, talking to workers at the gaming table. Leung at one point is seen slamming a metal money box on a table.

In closing arguments, prosecutor Manuel Corga said the tape proved his case. Defense lawyer Pedro Redinha scoffed that the tape proved ``absolutely nothing.″

Wan testified he had gone to the casino only to gamble.