Vid pirates get stiff sentence

Penalty is strongest for piracy anywhere in world

SYDNEY — A Hong Kong court has jailed for 6½ years a husband-and-wife team who ran one of the world’s largest video piracy operations.

The Motion Picture Assn., which helped instigate the case against the pair in 1998, hailed the penalty as the stiffest handed down for film piracy by any court in the world.

Tsoi Kei Lung and Ng Kam Fung were arrested in 1998 after a raid by Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption, during which 22.4 million video compact discs were seized from their firm, Golden Science Technology.

An MPA spokesman said the haul included counterfeit product from all U.S. major studios, repping at least 58 movie titles.

Tsoi and Ng jumped bail before their trial in 2001 and fled the country. After 2½ years on the run, Tsoi was apprehended during a raid in Lanzhou City, China, in an operation involving China’s Public Security Police, Interpol China and Hong Kong’s ICAC. His wife was arrested in Vancouver by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Both were extradited to Hong Kong to face trial, which concluded Monday with their convictions.

“By issuing these jail sentences, Hong Kong’s High Court affirmed the seriousness of optical disc piracy and its organized criminal nature,” said Mike Ellis, MPA senior veep, Asia-Pacific. “Tsoi and Ng were leading an extensive piracy ring and deserve to be behind bars.”

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