Jimmy Lai stays in jail as Hong Kong’s prime courtroom considers bail | Politics Information

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Judges are contemplating whether or not tycoon ought to be allowed bail over safety expenses in a precedent-setting choice.

Hong Kong tycoon and pro-democracy activist Jimmy Lai has been returned to custody on Monday whereas the territory’s highest courtroom considers whether or not these dealing with nationwide safety expenses ought to be eligible for bail in a landmark problem to Hong Kong’s sweeping new nationwide safety laws.

Lai, a distinguished critic of Beijing’s Communist Occasion, was charged on December 11 with violating the brand new safety laws by allegedly colluding with overseas powers and endangering nationwide safety.

After a whole day of deliberations, the 5 judges on the Court docket of Closing Attraction failed to achieve a verdict and mentioned they’d situation a judgement at a later date.

The case has been carefully watched in Hong Kong on account of 73-year-old Lai’s excessive profile and the precedent it’s going to set for whether or not people dealing with nationwide safety expenses can put up bail.

“The enchantment in the present day is of monumental significance. The Nationwide Safety Legislation overrides and undermines lots of the primary ideas that underpin Hong Kong’s frequent regulation system, together with the presumption of bail,” mentioned Johnny Patterson, coverage director of Hong Kong Watch within the UK.

“The judgement will set a precedent for the way the Nationwide Safety Legislation will match into town’s wider authorized framework. The Hong Kong Invoice of Rights ensures presumption of bail for non-violent crimes. It’s critical that this precept is upheld.”

Prosecutors argued the “default place” was that defendants can not put up bail until they can show they are going to “not proceed to commit acts endangering nationwide safety,” public broadcaster RTHK reported.

Lai was initially denied bail, however the choice was overturned on the excessive courtroom the place the decide allowed Lai $1.3m bail on a set of strict circumstances together with that he be confined to his house and hand in his passport. The prosecution appealed that call to the territory’s highest courtroom, and Lai was returned to jail after prosecutors argued he nonetheless posed a risk.

Supporters throng courtroom

Earlier than the listening to on Monday morning, supporters and detractors alike gathered in lengthy queues exterior the colonial-era courtroom for an opportunity to safe certainly one of 50 seats reserved within the public gallery.

They included  Cardinal Joseph Zen, the previous bishop of Hong Kong and arch critic of China’s Communist Occasion, who was heckled as a “canine” and “traitor” by pro-establishment protesters, in response to video footage.

Lai and two of his executives additionally face separate expenses for fraud for allegedly utilizing the workplaces of his firm NEXT Digital, the writer of the anti-establishment newspaper Apple Day by day, for causes aside from these acknowledged within the lease.

Monday’s bail listening to was the primary case underneath Hong Kong’s new Chief Justice Andrew Cheung.

His predecessor, Geoffrey Ma, overturned the convictions of many democracy activists like Joshua Wong for his or her position in Hong Kong’s final wave of protests in 2014.

The Court docket of Closing Attraction is the very best courtroom in Hong Kong and overseas judges from different frequent regulation jurisdictions normally sit on the bench. In instances involving the nationwide safety regulation, chief govt Carrie Lam should first clear the judges, however Ma and others have sought to emphasize it’s the judiciary somewhat than Lam who decides which judges preside over which instances.

London-based legal barrister David Perry was initially requested to prosecute Lai however he withdrew from the case following a public uproar in the UK and was changed by a neighborhood barrister.

Lai’s trial is scheduled to begin in April.

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