Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The Case of the Missing Indian

Or should I say, the trunk. On October 24th, 1905, a century ago yesterday, the body of an Indian named Musta Kim was found in a trunk on the foreshore at Lai Chi Kok (now quite a bit inland). He had a bullet in his head, which presumably was the cause of death. According to the police report, 6 Indians were arrested, 3 were released and 3 later acquitted at the Criminal Sessions for lack of evidence. No arrest was ever made.

Then the next day, 100 years ago today, a carpenter named Lo Chi, aged 38, was found with a broken thigh outside of a now disappeared street named Yee Yick Lane. He was taken to the Government Civil Hospital where he died the next day. Apparently, Lo Chi had been in a house where there had been an argument over a woman. Several men became enraged and chased him; in order to avoid capture, he tried to climb into the adjoining house. A wooden support on which he was standing fell away and he fell into the street. One man was arrested, but was later released by the Magistrate.

I mention these lurid items in last century's police blotter not because they were common occurences, but actually because they were quite rare. By 1905, Hong Kong had become a rather safe place, much more settled than in previous decades, despite having a population of about half a million. They stood out so much that the Police Superintendent felt compelled to mention them in his report for the year. Certainly, the tendency to arrest and convict, and ask questions later, as described by Christopher Munn in his history of justice in early Hong Kong (see Anglo-China), had given way to more established guidelines on the rule of law.

That's all for today! Until the morrow...


Madame Chiang said...

unless his name was Rasputin, I think it fairly safe to assume that the bullet in the head was the cause of death!

Dave and Stefan said...

Indeed. But speaking of Rasputin, one bullet, six suspects - a little bit of judicial Russian roulette!