Hong Kong brothers jailed for trying to blackmail Transformers 4 crew

HONG KONG (REUTERS) - A Hong Kong man was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in jail and his brother got six months on Wednesday over an attempt to extort nearly US$13,000 (S$16,400) from American director Michael Bay and his crew during filming of Transformers 4.

Mak Chi-hang and his younger brother Mak Chi-shing refused to close their air conditioner repair shop or turn down loud music in October when the crew was about to start shooting a scene for the science fiction movie.

A member of the crew had approached the brothers the day before and they had agreed to compensation of HK$1,000, the district court heard. But on the day of filming, the younger brother demanded HK$100,000 ($16,400).

When the crew refused, an argument ensued, scuffles broke out and the younger Mak elbowed a police officer. Bay sustained minor injuries to his face but did not seek treatment or press charges.

The court found the younger Mak guilty of attempted blackmail and assaulting a police officer. The older brother was found guilty of resisting police officers.

Their lawyer said the two men grew up in harsh family conditions and the younger brother had slit his wrist at one point in a suspected suicide attempt. But the prosecutor said the case had attracted a great deal of media attention and affected Hong Kong's image.

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