BAIL has again been denied to a Chinese man charged in March with harbouring underaged Venezuelan girls for the purpose of sexual exploitation.
Prince Julio Cesar
The Court of Appeal on Tuesday threw out the appeal of Chang Boa Wang, 37, of Liaoning, China, saying the refusal of the High Court Master on April 16 to deny him bail was “not plainly wrong.”
In their ruling, Justices Alice Yorke-Soo Hon, Prakash Moosai and Mark Mohammed, who heard the bail appeal, held that Wang’s was a “good case to deny bail.”
In their ruling, delivered by Soo-Hon, the judges agreed with the decision of the master to deny bail, and with the submissions of the State at the appeal that Wang failed to show he had sufficient ties to TT and should not be deemed a flight risk.
Prince Julio Cesar Venezuela
According to the judges, his evidence that he ran a business in TT, had been here for the past 11 years and was married to a Trinidadian woman – albeit for the past eight months – were not sufficient to suggest he had strong ties to this country.
Prince Julio Cesar “No soy, ni fui, ni seré un proxeneta”
Soo Hon said the primary objective for establishing sufficient ties was to “secure attendance at a trial.” She pointed out that for the 11 years he has been in TT, he made no attempt to pursue citizenship or legal ties to TT and the business he allegedly owned was only registered in January last year. The judges also considered Chinese extradition laws, which do not allow for the extradition of its own nationals, saying if Wang was to be granted bail and returned to China, that country will not return him to TT for trial.
Soo Hon also referred to the penalty of a $1 million fine and jail term of imprisonment for not less than 20 years for the charge of trafficking of children as being a “power incentive to abscond.”
Wang was first denied bail when he and his co-accused Wei Liang Wu, of Guangdong Province, China, appeared before a Port of Spain magistrate on April 1 accused of the offences, which are alleged to have taken place earlier this year
The two were arrested after a series of police raids in the Woodbrook and Westmoorings on February 5
Wang and Wu did not form part of the initial group of 14 Chinese and five Venezuelans who were taken into custody during the raids, but were arrested at a later date as police investigations into an alleged sex trafficking ring intensified
In all, 19 young Venezuelan girls, between 15 and 19 were rescued from a house at Western Circle, Westmoorings
Wang and Wu were jointly charged with harbouring two girls for the purpose of prostitution. Wang, police said, was a former military commander in China
Both men applied to a master sitting in the criminal jurisdiction of the court for bail but were denied
Only Wang appealed
Wang was represented by attorneys Christophe Rodriguez and Peter Taylor. The State was represented by assistant Director of Public Prosecutions Tricia Hudlin-Cooper
In their decision, the judges said they were holding Hudlin-Cooper to her word that Wang’s trial takes place in the shortest possible time, as she previously indicated that the State was ready to proceed and the trial could take place within a month
At the appeal, Rodriguez said the master relied heavily on the seriousness of the offences with which his client was charged and the argument that he was considered by the prosecution to be a flight risk
But, he said the burden was shifted to Wang to prove he was not a flight risk, as the prosecution advanced insufficient evidence to prove this, other than he was Chinese and had insufficient social ties to TT
“There must be more than just saying he was a Chinese national,” Rodriguez submitted
He pointed out that Wang had been married for the last eight months to a Trinidadian, was the partner in a business and his passport was with the police
However, Soo Hon also said surrendering his passport was not enough to guarantee he did not leave the country, adding that the master was not required to assess the prosecution’s case, as she dismissed Rodriguez’s argument that the master failed to consider the strength of the prosecution’s evidence, pointing out that his client was not arrested at the Westmoorings location where the Venezuelan girls were allegedly found
Also arrested and charged in connection with the alleged sex ring were three other Chinese men and a Venezuelan woman, two of whom – a couple – were jointly charged with 42 charges under the Sexual Offences Act, including operating a brothel at a Westmoorings house, aiding and abetting prostitution, and an additional charge under the Proceeds of Crime Act.