The Just-won’t-let-go Dept

Like the proverbial rottweiler with its throat-clamping jaws, Hong Kong’s Justice Dept goes to the courts for a fourth time to prevent Timothy Owen KC from defending Jimmy Lai at a trial due to start next week. The department is applying directly to the Court of Final Appeal for leave to appeal the last rejection.

Why the determination to bar overseas counsel? Six of Lai’s former media staff are pleading guilty to ‘conspiring to collude with a foreign country or foreign elements’ at a NatSec court with its handpicked judges and possibility of sentence-reduction. Some will testify against Lai. Evidence heard involves ‘lunchbox meetings’ and planning for ‘seditious’ news and comment articles calling for public participation in protests and foreign sanctions against China and Hong Kong. (More here.) What many would consider fairly typical Apple Daily editorial work is being presented as a threat to national security. What will a foreign lawyer, with few local ties but a potentially sensitive or influential overseas audience, have to say about this, in or out of court, if he is permitted to defend the high-profile Lai? 

An even bigger question is how the authorities will react if the CFA denies the attempt to bar Owen. Is the whole judicial system getting into a situation where higher powers see fit to impose whatever ‘enhancements’ it takes to ensure it does not conflict with the sovereign’s ‘comprehensive jurisdiction’?

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7 Responses to The Just-won’t-let-go Dept

  1. Siu Jiu says:

    Presumably if the Security State loses at the CFA they can simply cook up an excuse to deny Timothy Owen KC entry to Hong Kong. Surely allowing foreign counsel to confer with a local security suspect would endanger state security, as Lai and his local legal team might pass on sensitive information.

  2. Stanley Lieber says:

    @Siu Jiu

    Options include reinterpreting the law or transferring the case to the mainland.

    It doesn’t really matter. Legal niceties are strictly ornamental now.

    The implacable will of the CCP is the only thing that matters now.

    It is simply a question of how and where they choose to exercise it.

    People who argue about the legality of things now are wasting their breath.

  3. Stu says:

    They would even need to cook anything, visa denials have never been explained under the old’wouldn’t comment on individual cases’ chestnut.

  4. Chief Of Court says:

    At this point, the more important question is if they allow the bench to toke during examinations. Or only in recess

  5. Siu Jiu says:

    @Stu: Spot on.
    @Stanley: “strictly ornamental.” Precisely. There’s the underlying logic and the ornamental logic, put on for show. The underlying logic is what really matters, and it’s that, by whatever means, they will disappear their imaginary mastermind of the 2019 unrest for life. The ornamental display is important in its own way, so that they can send out their minions to proclaim that HK and the PRC have “rule of law,” “according to relevant procedures,” and so on.

    This is one reason for considering any judges still in the system — obviously including the foreign judges on the CFA — complicit in persecution of the innocent. They lend their names to a system that exists purely for show, to dress up the capricious exercise of power.

  6. Cautious cynic says:

    Two points.

    Deferral of sentences is to ensure convicted witnesses stick to script. If not, sentence may change.

    Individual judges can still do good, in the particular case.

  7. Stanley Lieber says:

    @Cautious cynic

    Agreed on both points.

    However, the individual judges can only do good once.

    After which, they’ll spend the rest of their judicial career in traffic court.

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