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The BBC's Jill McGivering
"Wan's conviction is a much needed boost for the authorities in Macau"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 23 November, 1999, 11:12 GMT
'Broken Tooth' sent to jail
Security was tight for the trial

A notorious gangster known as "Broken Tooth" has been jailed for 15 years in the Portuguese enclave of Macau.

The court jailed Wan Kuok-koi and his top lieutenants immediately after they were convicted of criminal association, loan-sharking and illegal gambling.

"Broken Tooth" shouted he was innocent after the verdict
The verdict comes as the territory's Portuguese administration tries to allay fears over law and order ahead of next month's handover to China.

Eight co-defendants, including Wan's brother Wan Kuok-hung, were also jailed.

All stood in the dock and shouted a torrent of abuse after their convictions, accusing police of corruption.

Landmark trial

The verdicts followed a month-long trial billed as one of the most important police breakthroughs involving Macau triads in decades. It was held amid tight security.

Justice Fernando Estrela ruled that all assets of the nine convicted gangsters be confiscated. One defendant was acquitted of all charges because of a lack of evidence.

Wan maintained he was innocent throughout the trial, declaring himself a bona fide gaming chip trader, a high-stakes gambler and real estate investor.

The prosecution lined up some 50 witnesses against Wan. It also cited a string of media interviews Wan gave in the mid-1990s, in which he allegedly declared himself a leader of the main 14K triad gang.

Wan was arrested in May 1998 while watching a gangster movie, Casino, which he financed and which is widely believed to chronicle his own gangland exploits.

Death sentence

Meanwhile, a Chinese court is reported to have upheld death sentences of a Hong Kong gang leader and two of his accomplices for a string of crimes in Macau.

Local television reported that the Supreme People's Court in Zhuhai, on the border with Macau, upheld the sentences handed down earlier this month to Ye Cheng-jian and his accomplices for offences in Macau and Guangdong province including robberies, murders and arms smuggling.

Another 13 members of the gang were reported to have been given jail terms.

Ye and his accomplices were reportedly taken to an execution ground after the court announced its decision. Death sentences in China are usually carried out immediately after final appeals have been denied.

Turf wars

Macau has been rocked in recent years by violent turf wars between rival secret society gangs, or triads, trying to control illicit businesses such as prostitution, loan-sharking and smuggling on the fringes of Macau's nine legal casinos.

Portuguese authorities say the triad problem is improving but 37 people have been killed so far this year, many in triad-related crimes.

Macau reverts to China on 20 December under a "one country, two systems" formula, which grants the enclave 50 years of autonomy. Portugal has held the enclave for 442 years.
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See also:
11 Oct 99 |  Asia-Pacific
'Broken Tooth' goes on trial
15 May 99 |  Asia-Pacific
Macau leader chosen
13 Feb 99 |  From Our Own Correspondent
Macao: Mediterranean life in the East

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