HK protests: Queen’s Counsel hired to prosecute Jimmy Lai, eight others steps down amid withering criticism in Britain

21-Jan-2021 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:02 AM Print This Post

The British Queen’s Counsel hired by the Hong Kong justice department to prosecute media mogul Jimmy Lai Chee-ying and eight opposition figures for their roles in a 2019 anti-government protest has dropped the case, citing growing pressure back home.

David Perry’s decision to step away from the prosecution emerged just days after British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab dubbed him “mercenary” for accepting the job.

“Perry, QC, expressed concerns about such pressures and the exemption of quarantine, and indicated the trial should proceed without him,” a spokesman for the city’s Department of Justice said on Wednesday.

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Last week’s news that Perry who has served as prosecutor in some of Hong Kong’s highest-profile trials would take on the case, attracted a firestorm of criticism from politicians and activists back home, most recently Raab.

“I don’t understand how anyone of good conscience, from the world-leading legal profession that we have, would take a case where they will have to apply the national security legislation at the behest of the authorities in Beijing, which is directly violating, undermining the freedom of the people of Hong Kong,” Raab said in an interview with British media.

The case against the nine centres on an anti-government protest in Causeway Bay on August 18, 2019. Prosecutors have argued protesters disregarded the objection by police that day to turn an approved assembly inside Victoria Park into a march to Central, which was not allowed.

Last week’s news that Perry who has served as prosecutor in some of Hong Kong’s highest-profile trials would take on the case, attracted a firestorm of criticism from politicians and activists back home, most recently Raab.

“I don’t understand how anyone of good conscience, from the world-leading legal profession that we have, would take a case where they will have to apply the national security legislation at the behest of the authorities in Beijing, which is directly violating, undermining the freedom of the people of Hong Kong,” Raab said in an interview with British media.

The case against the nine centres on an anti-government protest in Causeway Bay on August 18, 2019. Prosecutors have argued protesters disregarded the objection by police that day to turn an approved assembly inside Victoria Park into a march to Central, which was not allowed.

On Wednesday, the justice department spokesman said ill-informed criticisms had conflated the case facing Lai and the others with the national security law Beijing introduced in June last year.

“As legal proceedings are still ongoing, it is inappropriate for anyone to comment on the case, as it is a matter of sub judice. No one should embark upon baseless speculations. Any unfair and unfounded allegation made with a view to undermining and discrediting our independent criminal justice system will be vehemently refuted,” he said.

The spokesman added the trial would proceed as scheduled, with the department engaging another counsel to take up the prosecution.

https://sg.news.yahoo.com/hong-kong-protests-queen-counsel-044922107.html

 

Category: Hong Kong

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