A High Court judge was yesterday forced to adjourn the hearing of a corruption case of a 47-year-old Chinese woman, who was allowed to return to Trinidad before this country’s travel restrictions for the ongoing global coronavirus outbreak took effect.
Yan Fang Hong was scheduled to appear before High Court judge Hayden St Clair-Douglas at the Hall of Justice in Port-of-Spain yesterday morning for the continuation of her case for attempting to bribe a police officer in 2007.
However, when the case was called, St Clair-Douglas informed those present that he had instructed the Supreme Court Registrar to ask Hong’s attorneys for her not to attend because of international reports on the coronavirus.
After announcing the precautionary measure, St Clair-Douglas adjourned the case to March 2.
Guardian Media understands that Hong, who has been on bail since being charged over a decade ago, was granted permission to return to China to spend Christmas with her children.
Before Hong left China last Thursday, her local attorneys contacted the Immigration Division to find out whether she would be permitted to enter the country for her hearing.
At the time, the immigration officials allegedly claimed that they had not received any official directive on the travel restrictions, which were announced by Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh at the post-Cabinet press briefing, last Thursday.
Under the restrictions, persons visiting or living in China are precluded from entering T&T within 14 days of leaving the country. The time period coincides with the incubation period for the virus.
Hong arrived at the Piarco International Airport on a Caribbean Airlines flight from New York, around 9 pm on Saturday night.
Sources said that she was initially screened and cleared at the John F Kennedy (JFK) International Airport in New York before being allowed to board a connecting flight to Trinidad.
When the woman reportedly arrived in Trinidad, she was screened once again and did not show any symptoms. She was then allowed to leave with one of her attorneys, who came to the airport to obtain documents, which would have been necessary if she (Hong) was denied entry and missed her scheduled court appearance before St Clair-Douglas.
Hong is facing a charge under the Prevention of Corruption Act for bribing a police officer on April 5, 2007.
Hong was at a casino in Princes Town, which she managed, when police raided the business for allegedly having 40 more gambling machines than permitted in its licence.
She allegedly offered a senior officer a $10,000 to forgo prosecuting the offence but was instead arrested and charged for corruption.
The woman is being represented by a team of lawyers led by Rajiv Persad.