Trial of former HK tycoon Jimmy Lai opens

2023-12-19 09:04:38China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

The trial of former media tycoon Jimmy Lai Chee-ying, who is accused of colluding with foreign forces to endanger national security, along with other charges, began on Monday at the West Kowloon Magistrates' Courts in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

The trial, which is being heard by a three-judge panel, is expected to last 80 days. On Sunday evening, journalists lined up outside the courthouse to secure seats for the high-profile case. Given the amount of publicity the case has generated, the judiciary has made special arrangements to allow more than 300 people to observe the proceedings.

Among those lining up for a place in the courthouse on Monday morning were several representatives of foreign consular offices in Hong Kong, including Sapphire Le Sage, consul in the political and communications section of the British Consulate-General in Hong Kong.

Police maintained a strong security presence around the courthouse on Monday, with metal barricades in place, dozens of officers patrolling the area, and armored vehicles and counterterrorism teams standing by.

Members of the public and judiciary staff were required to pass through security checks before entering the courthouse.

Lai, founder of now defunct Apple Daily, faces two counts of conspiracy to collude with a foreign country or external elements to endanger national security and one count of conspiracy to print, publish, sell, offer for sale, distribute, display or reproduce seditious publications.

In addition, three subsidiaries of Apple Daily's parent company, Next Digital, face one count of conspiracy to collude with a foreign country or external elements to endanger national security and one count of conspiracy to print, publish, sell, offer for sale, distribute, display or reproduce seditious publications.

Lai was arrested on Aug 10, 2020, with nine other people, including several senior executives of Next Digital.

On Monday, the court dealt with a technicality involving the seditious-publications charge, in which the defense argued that the prosecution had failed to bring the charge within the prescribed six-month time limit.

Lai is accused of having committed the offense between April 1,2019, and June 24, 2021. The prosecution brought the charge against Lai on Dec 28, 2021. Robert Pang Yiu-hung, senior counsel representing Lai, said that was four days after the prescribed time period if the court decided the starting point for the filing period to be June 24, 2021.

Judge Esther Toh Lye-ping, one of the three judges on the case, said that the charge of sedition may involve activities that were ongoing, unlike with other types of charges, such as conspiracy to commit murder, that would be classified as individual instances.

Were the logic of the defense to be followed, the judge said, once a defendant had completed committing an offense, he or she would not be subject to prosecution for similar behavior six months later.

Responding to statements made by the United States and the United Kingdom following the first day of Lai's trial, Wang Wenbin, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, said at a regular news conference on Monday that making such irresponsible comments about an ongoing judicial process is against the principle of the rule of law, international law and the basic norms governing international relations.

The spokesman also said that the central government firmly supports the Hong Kong SAR in upholding national security in accordance with the law.

A spokesperson for the HKSAR government said in a statement on Monday that the law enforcement actions of all cases are handled strictly on the basis of evidence and in accordance with the law, which has nothing to do with freedom of the press or the background of any person or organization.

The notion that people or organizations with certain backgrounds should be immune from legal sanctions for illegal activities would be tantamount to granting such people or organizations the privilege to break the law, and would be totally contrary to the spirit of the rule of law, according to the statement.

The Commissioner's Office of China's Foreign Ministry in the HKSAR said in a statement on Monday that Western politicians' behavior has exposed their true intentions of colluding with and supporting anti-China forces to disrupt the rule of law in the Hong Kong SAR.

Related news


Most popular in 24h

MoreTop news


Back to top About Us | Jobs | Contact Us | Privacy Policy
Copyright ©1999-2023 All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.
[网上传播视听节目许可证(0106168)] [京ICP证040655号]
[京公网安备 11010202009201号] [京ICP备05004340号-1]