Hong Kong’s chief stated he’ll ask Beijing to find out whether or not international attorneys can work on nationwide safety instances 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 Courtroom of Closing Enchantment (CFA), town’s highest courtroom, upheld a decrease courtroom’s verdict to permit British barrister Timothy Owen to characterize Lai in a landmark nationwide safety case that had been attributable to begin on Thursday.
Lai, 74, is probably the most high-profile critic of Beijing charged underneath Hong Kong’s sweeping nationwide safety regulation and faces a most sentence of life in jail on costs of colluding with international forces. He additionally faces one cost underneath a colonial-era sedition regulation.
The federal government had sought a “blanket ban” on international attorneys engaged on nationwide safety instances, 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 Govt John Lee stated Monday he would ask China’s Nationwide Individuals’s Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) to intervene.
In line with an announcement, Lee desires Beijing to resolve whether or not attorneys who’re “not certified to practise usually” in Hong Kong can take part in nationwide safety instances.
Lee’s transfer follows repeated makes an attempt by Hong Kong’s Division of Justice to forestall Owen from representing Lai.
“At current, there aren’t any efficient means to make sure that a counsel from abroad won’t have battle of curiosity due to his (nationwide curiosity),” Lee advised a information convention. “And there are additionally no means to make sure that he has not been coerced, compromised or in any method managed by international governments, associations or individuals.”
This is able to be the sixth time the NPCSC has made an interpretation on Hong Kong’s legal guidelines because the metropolis was handed over from Britain to China 1997.
Lee stated the federal government will search an adjournment to Lai’s trial in the course of the course of.
Lai, whose pro-democracy tabloid Apple Each day was compelled to close down after a police raid final yr, 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 guide his protection, which sparked a authorized debate over whether or not international attorneys ought to take up authorized illustration on nationwide safety regulation instances.
Because the handover, Hong Kong has maintained the widespread regulation system inherited from British rule.
Its unbiased judiciary and rule of regulation have lengthy been deemed key to town’s success as a world monetary middle. The town’s authorized system permits abroad judges within the metropolis’s courts, and attorneys from different widespread regulation jurisdictions can work on instances the place their experience is required.
Nonetheless, China’s ruling Communist Social gathering moved to convey Hong Kong consistent with its authoritarian rule by bypassing town’s legislature to implement the safety regulation in response to anti-government protests that rocked town in 2019.
Circumstances underneath 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 regulation has stifled freedoms, claiming as a substitute it has restored order within the metropolis after the 2019 protests.