HONG KONG • A professor at the University of Hong Kong (HKU) who was charged with murder after the body of his wife was found inside a suitcase at his office has been placed on suicide watch while in custody.
Cheung Kie Chung, 53, made his first appearance in the dock yesterday to face the murder charge, the South China Morning Post reported.
Cheung, who is from the Department of Mechanical Engineering, did not enter a plea or apply for bail. But he told the court he understood the charge he faced. He is remanded until the next hearing on Nov 22.
Magistrate Li Chi Ho granted an application by the prosecutor for a "special watch by the Correctional Services Department, as the defendant claimed to feel suicidal", the Post reported.
Cheung was charged with murdering Ms Chan Wai Man, 52, on Aug 17 at his home in Wei Lun Hall. He is the warden of the dormitory where he lived with his wife, their daughter and son. He reported his wife missing on Aug 20, saying she had not returned home after a quarrel over family toilet hygiene three days earlier.
Police said they became suspicious of Cheung after closed-circuit television footage failed to show his wife leaving their home, but Cheung was seen moving a large wooden box out of the premises.
Police searched Cheung's office on Tuesday after days of investigation. When they opened the wooden box, they found the suitcase that contained what they believed was his wife's body. Cheung was arrested.
Superintendent Law Kwok Hoi told reporters on Tuesday: "There was blood seeping out from the suitcase and it stank."
He said the victim might have been strangled as an electrical wire was tied around her neck, but the cause of death still needed to be confirmed by a post-mortem.
In court yesterday, Cheung looked calm, the Post reported.
Dr William Cheung, chairman of the HKU Academic Staff Association - of which Cheung Kie Chung is a vice-chairman - was at the hearing to support the latter, along with other committee members.
Dr Cheung said his long-time colleague has "always been so helpful" and that many cannot believe what has happened. "From what I saw in court today, he just looked straight at the judge when hearing the charge", without even looking at the people in court, he added.
Cheung's arrest comes a week after the start of the murder trial of Khaw Kim Sun, 53, a Chinese University of Hong Kong professor who is accused of killing his wife and daughter with a yoga ball filled with carbon monoxide in 2015.
The Malaysian has pleaded not guilty and urged police not to get his lover involved in the investigation.