Hong Kong News

Nonpartisan, Noncommercial, unconstrained.
Sunday, Jun 23, 2024

Hong Kong tycoon Jimmy Lai’s trial may be deferred by month or more

Hong Kong tycoon Jimmy Lai’s trial may be deferred by month or more

City leader John Lee is asking Beijing’s top legislative body to interpret the law, with the committee’s next meeting scheduled for December 30.

The need to wait for Beijing’s decision on the role of foreign lawyers in national security cases could defer Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai Chee-ying’s trial by at least a month unless special meetings are called, according to analysts.

The founder of the now-defunct tabloid newspaper Apple Daily won his Court of Final Appeal bid on Monday to have British King’s Counsel Timothy Owen represent him at his trial on Thursday, when he faces charges of sedition and collusion with foreign forces under the Beijing-imposed national security law.

But shortly after the ruling, Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu said he had asked the National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, Beijing’s top legislative body, to decide whether such an appointment should be permitted given the need to safeguard national security.

Lee also said the secretary for justice would seek an adjournment of Lai’s national security trial. The media tycoon was first charged in December 2020, months after the security law was put in place.


Media tycoon Jimmy Lai is facing charges of sedition and collusion with foreign forces under the Beijing-imposed national security law.

The city leader on Monday said: “I trust this matter will be addressed as soon as possible. It will be appropriate for the secretary for justice to seek an adjournment to the actual trial and we should proceed to do that.”

The next standing committee meeting is on December 30, according to Tam Yiu-chung, Hong Kong’s sole delegate to the apex legislative body. Tam is one of the city’s pro-establishment hardliners who had spent the past week calling for the interpretation.

Tian Feilong, an associate professor at Beihang University’s Law School in Beijing and director of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies, said he believed it could be done despite the short time frame as the NPC chairman had the power to convene an interim meeting of its standing committee “if there is a special need”.

He called Lai’s case “highly influential” while the Court of Final Appeal judges ruling based on a local legal angle “is likely to trigger Beijing to step in” and is “not good for Hong Kong’s judicial independence”.

Three Court of Final Appeal judges on Monday cited technical grounds in dismissing the secretary for justice’s last-ditch attempt to overturn the permission granted to Owen to join Lai’s defence team.

Tian Feilong, an associate professor at Beihang University’s law school in Beijing and director of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies.


The issue has upset some of the city’s most hardline Beijing loyalists over the past week, fuelling worries that lawyers practising overseas would be given access to top state secrets. They believe that Lai’s preliminary win over this point may become a precedent letting other foreign lawyers work in national security cases in the city in the future.

Albert Chen Hung-yee, a legal scholar at the University of Hong Kong, spoke of two possible outcomes after the government’s request to adjourn.

“The court can adjourn the case or the case can continue with Tim Owen until an interpretation is issued by Beijing,” he said.

The scholar, who specialises in Chinese and international law, argued that the Hong Kong court would have full discretion to do so as the trial will “involve an interpretation of the national security law”.

One thing that will make the process of the national security law interpretation less convoluted is that the matter is not required to go through a Hong Kong-based committee advising on the Basic Law in the way an interpretation on the mini-constitution did, according to Chen.

Article 65 of the national security law stipulates that the power of interpretation of the legislation shall be vested in the standing committee.

Pro-Beijing heavyweight Maria Tam Wai-chu, also a lawyer, said the court was likely to adjourn the case to avoid a waste of resources should the interpretation later cause the trial to terminate halfway and restart.

A barrister, who prefers to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the topic, said Lai would suffer financial loss and would also be at a disadvantage for being told last minute that he would not be able to access the barrister whom he had paid for and who had been handling his case all along. He feared the incident would cause the outside world to view the city’s legal system negatively.

Hong Kong leader John Lee is asking Beijing’s top legislative body to interpret the national security law, with the committee’s next meeting scheduled for December 30.


But legal scholar Thomas Kellogg, who studies the Hong Kong situation at Georgetown University in Washington, said Lai’s case underlined a wider issue.

“This move to block Tim Owen’s participation is part of a broader pattern of blocking due process rights in national security trials, which includes blocking the right to a jury trial and holding individuals – including Jimmy Lai himself – for extended periods in pre-trial detention, without access to bail,” he warned.

City leader Lee on Monday argued that rights of legal representation only extended to locally registered lawyers, not overseas ones.

The Hong Kong government has repeatedly hit back at what it saw as smearing, saying that rights to jury trials are not absolute while denial of bail is not uncommon in national security cases worldwide.

The third – and rather unlikely – outcome would be that Lai may decide to send a different barrister on Thursday when the trial is due to begin, doing away with all the brouhaha.

“We have no comment,” Lai’s legal team said, when asked about its next move.

Newsletter

Related Articles

Hong Kong News
0:00
0:00
Close
It's always the people with the dirty hands pointing their fingers
Paper straws found to contain long-lasting and potentially toxic chemicals - study
FTX's Bankman-Fried headed for jail after judge revokes bail
Blackrock gets half a trillion dollar deal to rebuild Ukraine
Steve Jobs' Son Launches Venture Capital Firm With $200 Million For Cancer Treatments
Google reshuffles Assistant unit, lays off some staffers, to 'supercharge' products with A.I.
End of Viagra? FDA approved a gel against erectile dysfunction
UK sanctions Russians judges over dual British national Kara-Murza's trial
US restricts visa-free travel for Hungarian passport holders because of security concerns
America's First New Nuclear Reactor in Nearly Seven Years Begins Operations
Southeast Asia moves closer to economic unity with new regional payments system
Political leader from South Africa, Julius Malema, led violent racist chants at a massive rally on Saturday
Today Hunter Biden’s best friend and business associate, Devon Archer, testified that Joe Biden met in Georgetown with Russian Moscow Mayor's Wife Yelena Baturina who later paid Hunter Biden $3.5 million in so called “consulting fees”
'I am not your servant': IndiGo crew member, passenger get into row over airline meal
Singapore Carries Out First Execution of a Woman in Two Decades Amid Capital Punishment Debate
Spanish Citizenship Granted to Iranian chess player who removed hijab
US Senate Republican Mitch McConnell freezes up, leaves press conference
Speaker McCarthy says the United States House of Representatives is getting ready to impeach Joe Biden.
San Francisco car crash
This camera man is a genius
3D ad in front of Burj Khalifa
Next level gaming
BMW driver…
Google testing journalism AI. We are doing it already 2 years, and without Google biased propoganda and manipulated censorship
Unlike illegal imigrants coming by boats - US Citizens Will Need Visa To Travel To Europe in 2024
Musk announces Twitter name and logo change to X.com
The politician and the journalist lost control and started fighting on live broadcast.
The future of sports
Unveiling the Black Hole: The Mysterious Fate of EU's Aid to Ukraine
Farewell to a Music Titan: Tony Bennett, Renowned Jazz and Pop Vocalist, Passes Away at 96
Alarming Behavior Among Florida's Sharks Raises Concerns Over Possible Cocaine Exposure
Transgender Exclusion in Miss Italy Stirs Controversy Amidst Changing Global Beauty Pageant Landscape
Joe Biden admitted, in his own words, that he delivered what he promised in exchange for the $10 million bribe he received from the Ukraine Oil Company.
TikTok Takes On Spotify And Apple, Launches Own Music Service
Global Trend: Using Anti-Fake News Laws as Censorship Tools - A Deep Dive into Tunisia's Scenario
Arresting Putin During South African Visit Would Equate to War Declaration, Asserts President Ramaphosa
Hacktivist Collective Anonymous Launches 'Project Disclosure' to Unearth Information on UFOs and ETIs
Typo sends millions of US military emails to Russian ally Mali
Server Arrested For Theft After Refusing To Pay A Table's $100 Restaurant Bill When They Dined & Dashed
The Changing Face of Europe: How Mass Migration is Reshaping the Political Landscape
China Urges EU to Clarify Strategic Partnership Amid Trade Tensions
The Last Pour: Anchor Brewing, America's Pioneer Craft Brewer, Closes After 127 Years
Democracy not: EU's Digital Commissioner Considers Shutting Down Social Media Platforms Amid Social Unrest
Sarah Silverman and Renowned Authors Lodge Copyright Infringement Case Against OpenAI and Meta
Why Do Tech Executives Support Kennedy Jr.?
The New York Times Announces Closure of its Sports Section in Favor of The Athletic
BBC Anchor Huw Edwards Hospitalized Amid Child Sex Abuse Allegations, Family Confirms
Florida Attorney General requests Meta CEO's testimony on company's platforms' alleged facilitation of illicit activities
The Distorted Mirror of actual approval ratings: Examining the True Threat to Democracy Beyond the Persona of Putin
40,000 child slaves in Congo are forced to work in cobalt mines so we can drive electric cars.
×