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Trial starts over sex-pix theft

A HONG Kong computer technician accused of stealing the racy images at the center of a celebrity sex photo scandal pleaded not guilty yesterday.

Sze Ho-chun entered his plea in a Hong Kong court as his trial began.

The 24-year-old technician allegedly stole photos from the laptop computer of movie star Edison Chen showing him engaging in sex acts with eight Hong Kong actresses and singers. The photos shocked the Chinese-speaking world after their release on the Internet last year, dominating headlines for weeks.

The scandal prompted a disgraced Chen to make a public apology in February 2008 and to take a break from the industry, fleeing Hong Kong for Vancouver, Canada.

Chen and others featured in the photos have only recently started to reappear in public.

Sze, charged with three counts of obtaining access to a computer with dishonest intent, faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison if convicted.

Prosecutors said yesterday that Chen sent a representative to drop his laptop off at a repair shop where Sze allegedly copied the photos.

Chen, 28, through a deposition given in Canada earlier this year, testified against the technician and identified several of the women featured in the photos.

None of the female celebrities - including singer Gillian Chung and actress Cecilia Cheung - is required to appear during the trial.

Chen was in Singapore over the weekend to promote his new movie, whose opening was delayed by the scandal. The Chinese-Canadian actor appeared in the 2002 hit Hong Kong police thriller "Infernal Affairs," which Martin Scorsese remade as "The Departed," and in the 2006 horror movie "The Grudge 2" alongside Sarah Michelle Gellar.


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