By Vir B. Lumicao
A foreign schoolteacher was accused of slapping the hand of a female Immigration officer and using foul language as he tried to prevent the officers from arresting his live-out Filipina domestic helper last January on Mawan Island.
Details of the incident were disclosed as the trial of James Joseph Unrau, said to be a teacher at a local school, got under way on Oct 30 before Magistrate Jolie Chao in Shatin court.
Unrau is facing a charge of obstructing members of the Immigration service from carrying out their duties as a result of the Mawan Island incident.
At an earlier hearing on Aug. 17, the prosecution said the defendant wanted to plead guilty to the charge, but the Justice Department rejected the plea.
The prosecution originally charged Unrau with aiding and abetting a breach of condition of stay and obstructing Immigration officers from carrying out their duties, but dropped the first charge when the court began hearing the case on July 24. The charge stems from an early morning raid by Immigration officers on a house in Tin Liu New Village in Mawan on Jan 28 to check out information that a Filipina maid was living there.
Officer Po Lun-wa, head of the five-man Immigration team and the first prosecution witness, when he knocked on the door at 6:23 am, a female voice asked in English:
Who is it?
When he replied he was from the Immigration service coming for an identity check, the lights in the house suddenly went out and the place fell quiet. The team waited and at 6:42 am a white male, the defendant, arrived and asked who they were.
Po said he replied the officers were making an identity check based on information that a Filipina lived in the house. He said the defendant refused to let them in saying he was the tenant of the house and that the woman behind the door was his maid.
The officers waited outside and at 7:20 am, a Southeast Asian female emerged from the house. Po said he asked for her ID but Unrau embraced the woman and tried to stop her from handing over her ID card.
I don’t know if he really meant if at the time but he kept using foul language at us, said Po, who led the raiding team.
The officers found out in the ID check that the woman was Mary Rose Arugay, but the address she indicated in her work contract was different from that of the house in Tin Liu New Village, so they arrested her.
The prosecution witness said Unrau put his left arm around the shoulders of Arugay and led the maid away from the officers for about 20 meters towards Park Island, where he and his family lived.
Two female officers grabbed and led Arugay to a government vehicle, but Unrau came to the Filipina’s aid and reportedly slapped the left hand of an officer named Leung.
Po then produced his warrant card and warned Unrau he would be arrested for blocking the officers from carrying out their duties.
The prosecution was to call three witnesses including Po during the trial, which was originally scheduled for one day. Arugay, who sat outside the courtroom during the trial, was to be the lone defense witness.
But the trial dragged on when the defense lawyer cross-examined Po, and Magistrate Chao was forced to adjourn the proceedings to Nov 12.