Act Daily News
Hong Kong’s chief stated he’ll ask Beijing to find out whether or not international attorneys can work on nationwide safety circumstances within the metropolis, a transfer with repercussions for the upcoming trial of jailed pro-democracy media tycoon Jimmy Lai.
The announcement got here Monday, hours after the Court of Final Appeal (CFA), the town’s highest courtroom, upheld a decrease courtroom’s verdict to permit British barrister Timothy Owen to signify Lai in a landmark nationwide safety case that had been as a result of begin on Thursday.
Lai, 74, is essentially the most high-profile critic of Beijing charged below Hong Kong’s sweeping nationwide safety legislation and faces a most sentence of life in jail on costs of colluding with international forces. He additionally faces one cost below a colonial-era sedition legislation.
The authorities had sought a “blanket ban” on international attorneys engaged on nationwide safety circumstances, besides in distinctive circumstances, which might have seen Owen faraway from the case.
When the CFA ruling went in opposition to the federal government, Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee stated Monday he would ask China’s National People’s Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) to intervene.
According to a press release, Lee desires Beijing to resolve whether or not attorneys who’re “not qualified to practise generally” in Hong Kong can take part in nationwide safety circumstances.
Lee’s transfer follows repeated makes an attempt by Hong Kong’s Department of Justice to stop Owen from representing Lai.
“At present, there are no effective means to ensure that a counsel from overseas will not have conflict of interest because of his (national interest),” Lee advised a news convention. “And there are also no means to ensure that he has not been coerced, compromised or in any way controlled by foreign governments, associations or persons.”
This can be the sixth time the NPCSC has made an interpretation on Hong Kong’s legal guidelines for the reason that metropolis was handed over from Britain to China 1997.
Lee stated the federal government will search an adjournment to Lai’s trial through the course of.
Lai, whose pro-democracy tabloid Apple Daily was compelled to close down after a police raid final 12 months, has been remanded in custody for nearly two years. He was sentenced to 13 months in jail in 2021 for collaborating in an unauthorized protest.
In August, the tycoon requested to rent Owen to steer his protection, which sparked a authorized debate over whether or not international attorneys ought to take up authorized illustration on nationwide safety legislation circumstances.
Since the handover, Hong Kong has maintained the widespread legislation system inherited from British rule.
Its unbiased judiciary and rule of legislation have lengthy been deemed key to the town’s success as a world monetary heart. The metropolis’s authorized system permits abroad judges within the metropolis’s courts, and attorneys from different widespread legislation jurisdictions can work on circumstances the place their experience is required.
However, China’s ruling Communist Party moved to carry Hong Kong consistent with its authoritarian rule by bypassing the town’s legislature to implement the safety legislation in response to anti-government protests that rocked the town in 2019.
Cases below the laws are dealt with by a devoted department of the Hong Kong police and designated nationwide safety judges, elevating concern about Beijing’s potential affect on proceedings.
The Hong Kong authorities has repeatedly denied criticism that the legislation has stifled freedoms, claiming as an alternative it has restored order within the metropolis after the 2019 protests.