A Hong Kong man who spent 18 years in jail in the US for a murder he did not commit has arrived home after winning his freedom, a news report said yesterday.
David Wong Kin-chin, 43, arrived back in Hong Kong to be reunited with his mother on Wednesday after being deported from the US where he has been held in a detention center as an illegal immigrant since his acquittal last December.
Wong was jailed for 25 years in 1987 for the murder of a fellow inmate while serving an eight-year sentence for robbery.
Wayne Lum Shi-wing, spokesman for the David Wong Support Committee, told the South China Morning Post the deportation took everybody by surprise.
"David had to pack and board a plane to Hong Kong right away. The immigration officers didn't allow him to make a last phone call to inform us or his family in Hong Kong," he said.
Wong left Hong Kong for the US when he was 18 years old in the early 1980s to work at a restaurant in New York's Chinatown. He was jailed in 1984 for trying to rob a restaurant owner. He was two years into the sentence when he was accused of stabbing another inmate and found guilty based on evidence given by prisoners and guards who claimed to have seen him stab the man to death in the exercise yard.
He remained behind bars in a New York maximum security prison until his plight was uncovered in the 1990s by Japanese-American civil-rights activist Yuri Kochiyama, who set up the David Wong Support Committee.
After Wong's case came to light, public support flooded in and 14 lawyers volunteered to work on his case. A documentary, The Fight to Free David Wong, was made.
He was granted a retrial by the New York State Appellate Division last year, which led to the overturning of his conviction in October and the murder charge being dropped two months later.
Lum said Wong was yesterday resting at his mother's home and was in very good spirits. He said Wong wanted to keep a low profile but intended to issue a statement thanking all those who helped him.