Jimmy Lai trial: Hong Kong to ask Beijing to rule on use of international attorneys in nationwide safety instances

Hong Kong

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 Court docket of Ultimate Enchantment (CFA), the town’s highest court docket, upheld a decrease court docket’s verdict to permit British barrister Timothy Owen to characterize Lai in a landmark nationwide safety case that had been on account of 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 expenses 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 accordance with an announcement, Lee needs Beijing to resolve whether or not attorneys who’re “not qualified to practise generally” 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 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 informed a information 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 may 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 Day by day was pressured 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 regulation instances.

Because the handover, Hong Kong has maintained the widespread regulation system inherited from British rule.

Its impartial judiciary and rule of regulation have lengthy been deemed key to the town’s success as a world monetary heart. 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 Get together moved to convey Hong Kong consistent with its authoritarian rule by bypassing the town’s legislature to implement the safety regulation in response to anti-government protests that rocked the town in 2019.

Instances 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 an alternative it has restored order within the metropolis after the 2019 protests.