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Hong Kong professor on suicide watch after being charged with wife's murder

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By Reuters

HONGKONG (Reuters) – Authorities in Hong Kong on Thursday placed a university professor on suicide watch after a court hearing to face a murder charge over his wife’s death, media said.

Cheung Kie-chung, 53, a mechanical engineering professor at the University of Hong Kong, was charged with the murder of his wife on August 17 at the hall of residence where he lived, a charge sheet seen by Reuters showed.

He appeared in the Eastern Magistrates’ court briefly, with the case adjourned until Nov. 22.

Cheung, who is also a member of the university’s governing council, did not enter a plea but told the court he understood the charge he faced, public broadcaster RTHK said.

The magistrate, Li Chi-ho, permitted Cheung to be placed on suicide watch while in custody, it added.

Cheung had called the police on August 20, saying his wife had gone missing after an argument, police said.

Police suspicions were aroused, however, after CCTV footage showed no evidence of his wife leaving the building during that period. Cheung could also be seen moving out a large wooden box, said a police superintendent, Law Kwok-hoi.

A police raid on Cheung’s office uncovered a white box containing a bloodstained suitcase in which was found a woman’s partially decomposing body, with a cable round the neck, Law said.

It is Hong Kong’s second recent murder case in which a professor has figured.

Khaw Kim Sun, 53, of the Chinese University of Hong Kong’s anaesthesia and intensive care department, has pleaded not guilty to accusations of murdering his wife and daughter in 2015 using a yoga ball filled with carbon monoxide and left in a car.

(Reporting by Trista Shi and James Pomfret; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)