Hong Kong asks Beijing to step in into row over UK lawyer

Court News 2022/11/30 12:16   Bookmark and Share
Hong Kong’s leader said on Monday he will ask Beijing to rule whether to let foreign lawyers be involved in national security cases after the city’s top court allowed a prominent pro-democracy publisher to hire a British lawyer for his upcoming trial.

John Lee said the government would ask for a postponement of Jimmy Lai’s high-profile trial that was due to start Thursday. But he did not offer a timetable for the interpretation that could effectively preempt the court judgment.

“At present, there is no effective means to ensure that a counsel from overseas will not have conflict of interest because of his nationality. And there is also no means to ensure that he has not been coerced, compromised, or in any way controlled by foreign governments, associations or persons,” he said.

The move was targeting overseas counsels who do not have the general practice qualification to carry out legal service in Hong Kong, he added.

Lai, the founder of the now-defunct Apple Daily and one of the most prominent figures in the city’s pro-democracy movement, was arrested after Beijing imposed a tough national security law to crack down on dissent following widespread protests in 2019. He faces collusion charges and a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

While the city’s secretary for justice was appealing an earlier ruling that approved Lai to hire a veteran British lawyer at the top court, pro-Beijing politicians and newspapers also voiced objections over the last few days.
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