Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam appointed three more national security law judges to hear the appeal challenging Hong Kong media mogul Jimmy Lai’s bail. The trial will now go ahead without any overseas non-permanent judge at the Court of Final Appeal.
Lai is set to appear in court next Monday to face the government’s appeal against the decision to extend his bail. The pro-democracy media tycoon had been kept in custody since December last year pending trial for alleged violations of the national security law and fraud.
The appeal will be heard by five judges, Chief Justice Andrew Cheung, Judges Roberto Ribeiro, Joseph Fok, Patrick Chan, and Frank Stock.
Cheung and Ribeiro were confirmed to be security law judges, and the Chief Executive’s Office told HKFP that Lam had also appointed Fok, Chan, and Stock as designated judges for security law cases on Wednesday.
Following British barrister and Queen’s Counsel David Perry’s withdrawal from the prosecution’s council against nine pro-democracy figures for alleged unauthorised assembly, local media reported that the government had hired veteran barrister Benjamin Yu for the case.
Yu’s sister, senior counsel and former lawmaker Audrey Eu, would be representing Lai in the case. The pair have faced each other in court on multiple occasions, including over the disqualification of former lawmakers Yau Wai-ching and Baggio Leung Chung-hang in 2016.
Lai and eight other democrats – including Margaret Ng, Leung Kwok-hung and Martin Lee – had been charged for allegedly organising and participating in an unauthorised protest in August 2019.
Perry withdrew from the case following criticism from the UK, including from British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab. Critics also questioned the government’s plan to work around the coronavirus restrictions, as travellers from the UK are banned from entering the city.
The case will go to court on February 16.