MACAO, July 5 -- The Portuguese Constitutional Court blocked Friday two more extraditions from Macao to China on the grounds that the suspects could be sentenced to death. The two suspects are Hong Kong residents who allegedly committed crimes in China.
Both men were arrested in the Portuguese enclave of Macao last year on warrants issued by China. Lei Chan-wa allegedly dealed in the designer drug 'ice,' a crystalline form of the drug methylamphetamine or 'speed,' in southern China's Guangdong Province. Leong Cheng-meng allegedly smuggled stolen cars into China from the British colony of Hong Kong. Earlier this week, Portugal ruled another Hong Kong man should not be extradited to China to face charges of killing a Chinese woman. All three suspects are in their thirties, and all have protested their innocence. Under the Portuguese Constitution, no one can be extradited from Portuguese custody to a country where the suspect would face capital punishment. Friday's decision overturns a previous ruling by the Macao Supreme Court which granted permission to China's three extradition requests. The three suspects still face the possibility of being tried for their crimes, based on evidence supplied by Chinese authorities. The men will remain in prison custody until the Macao Supreme Court announces a 'rectified' ruling on their cases after the summer recess that ends September 15. Macao's Supreme Court President Amaro Farinha Ribeiras said his court might still insist on its decision to approve the extraditions. But a Lisbon-based constitutional law expert warned that if the Macao Supreme Court disregarded the Constitutional Court's decision, it could call into question the legitimacy of the Portuguese administration in Macao.