The jury in the trial of former chief executive Donald Tsang — who is facing bribery charges — has been discharged at the Court of First Instance.

After hours of deliberation and staying overnight at the High Court on Thursday, the eight-person jury was discharged after reaching a split verdict. As a juror was dismissed without explanation on Wednesday, the minimum votes needed for a verdict, either way, was six to two.

Donald Tsang. Photo: Stand News.

The jurors returned a split verdict on Friday morning, but judge Andrew Chan said that it was still early and asked them to deliberate further. They were discharged on Friday afternoon. The judge said that further matters will be dealt with on Monday, and thanked the jury “on behalf of the judiciary and also on behalf of the people of Hong Kong.”

Tsang, 73, was charged with the crime of “chief executive accepting an advantage,” contrary to section 4 of the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance. The charges concerned free renovations of a penthouse in East Pacific Garden, Shenzhen between 2010 and 2012. Tsang was the chief executive and chairman of the Executive Council at the time.

According to the prosecution, the advantage in question was the HK$3 million renovations for the penthouse, where Tsang stayed briefly after leaving office. The property is owned by Bill Wong Cho-bau, who is the majority shareholder of local radio station Wave Media.

In order for Tsang to be found guilty, the jury had to be satisfied that the advantage was an inducement or reward allowing Tsang to become “favourably disposed” to the station and that Tsang knowingly accepted the advantage in question without a lawful excuse in his capacity as a chief executive.

Photo: In-Media.

During the period, Wave Media was granted a digital radio licence by the government. While Tsang’s former assistant Kevin Choi had testified that there was no one with a bigger say on the granting of licences than the chief executive, the judge told the jury that it would be corruption even if Tsang simply accepted the renovation without connection to the licence.

Earlier this year, the same court found him guilty of misconduct in public office, making him the first leader of the city to be convicted in a criminal trial. He was sentenced to 20 months in prison, but after less than two months in Stanley Prison, he was granted bail pending an appeal against his conviction.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.