A 67-year-old man pleaded guilty to operating an unregistered hire vehicle, known in the industry as “pak pai”, and illegally ferrying a foreign woman from the airport to the city.
At a court hearing, the man however rejected charges of robbery of the passenger, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
After being charged with five counts — theft, false imprisonment, robbery, illegal carriage of passengers for reward, and driving without third-party insurance — the defendant admitted to only last two.
The District Court heard Thursday that the defendant, surnamed Tong, picked up a Tanzanian woman at the Chek Lap Kok airport on Nov. 16 last year in a van that didn’t have hire permit.
He agreed initially to take her to Holiday Inn Golden Mile in Tsim Sha Tsui for HK$300. But once on the road, he is said to have told her that the trip will cost her HK$2,880.
The woman, a medical doctor who came to Hong Kong to attend a meeting involving the World Health Organization, was shocked at the demand.
She told him that she didn’t have that much cash. The Tanzanian was then taken to a bank ATM, but her card apparently didn’t work.
This prompted the van driver to take her to a money shop where she exchanged US$500.
When they reached the destination, Tong didn’t let the foreigner out of the van until she paid up all the money that he demanded, according to prosecutors.
Feeling helpless, the 39-year-old passenger paid up the amount. After going into the hotel, she narrated her ordeal to the hotel staff, prompting them to alert the police, according to Apple Daily.
Tong was arrested two days later and a case was lodged against him.
As court proceedings began on Thursday, video footage from security cameras at the money exchange shop was among the evidence submitted by prosecutors.
The hearing continues on Friday.
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