Hong Kong’s prime courtroom denied bail on Tuesday to media tycoon and Beijing critic Jimmy Lai, probably the most high-profile individual to be charged beneath town’s nationwide safety regulation.
Lai had been in custody since Dec. 3, apart from when he was launched on bail for a couple of week late final yr. He was granted a $1.6 million bail by a decrease courtroom on Dec. 23 solely to have the Court docket of Closing Attraction (CFA) carry him again into custody on Dec. 31 for an additional listening to.
His return to custody was associated to Article 42 of Hong Kong’s safety regulation, which says that “no bail shall be granted to a prison suspect or defendant except the choose has adequate grounds for believing that the prison suspect or defendant won’t proceed to commit acts endangering nationwide safety.”
On Tuesday, the CFA mentioned the decrease courtroom utilized an “faulty line of reasoning” and “misconstrued” Article 42. The choice was unanimous.
Lai was arrested in August when about 200 law enforcement officials raided the newsroom of his Apple Every day tabloid newspaper.
Onus on defendants to show they aren’t a risk
Beijing imposed the sweeping nationwide safety regulation on the previous British colony in June 2020 after months of pro-democracy protests. The regulation punishes something China considers subversion, secession, terrorism or collusion with overseas forces with as much as life in jail.
Critics say it’s geared toward crushing dissent and it erodes freedoms within the semi-autonomous, Chinese language-ruled metropolis. Its supporters say it restores stability after months of unrest.
Prosecutors have accused Lai of breaching the regulation over statements he made on July 30 and Aug. 18, wherein they allege he requested overseas interference in Hong Kong’s affairs.
Beneath the brand new regulation, the onus is on the defendant to show they’d not be a nationwide safety risk if launched on bail. Beneath Hong Kong’s frequent law-based authorized system, the onus has historically been on the prosecution to show its case.
The tycoon has been a frequent customer to Washington, assembly with officers, together with former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, to rally assist for Hong Kong democracy, prompting Beijing to label him a “traitor.”
Lai stepped down final yr as chairman of Subsequent Digital, which publishes Apple Every day, a preferred tabloid newspaper recognized for its feisty and important protection of China and Hong Kong.