UK presses for consular entry to Jimmy Lai as Hong Kong trial enters second day | EUROtoday

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The British authorities has known as on Hong Kong to supply consular entry to jailed media mogul Jimmy Lai as his landmark nationwide safety trial entered its second day on Tuesday.

The 76-year-old British citizen and founding father of the now-defunct pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily is going through costs of colluding with overseas forces to hazard nationwide safety and conspiring with others to launch seditious publications.

He was arrested in August 2020 throughout the Hong Kong administration’s crackdown on activists and China critics following the 2019 democracy motion.

The trial of Lai – essentially the most excessive profile of the almost 300 arrested underneath the Beijing-imposed draconian nationwide safety legislation – has turn into a diplomatic point of interest between China and the West, together with the UK, over freedom of press and judicial independence.

The UK and the US have known as on China for the instant launch of Lai, saying that the trial is politically motivated. Lai was already serving 5 years and 9 months for a fraud conviction over a lease dispute for his newspaper.

“We’ll continue to press for consular access to Mr Lai,” Anne-Marie Trevelyan, the British minister of state for the Indo-Pacific, mentioned in parliament on Monday.

She added that the UK was unable to supply consular entry “because we are not allowed to visit him in prison”.

Conservative former minister Tim Loughton, talking throughout an pressing query, informed the Commons: “This pantomime trial of Jimmy Lai is just the tip of a huge iceberg of the CCP’s (Chinese Communist Party) industrial abuse of human rights and indifference to international rule of law.”

Sir Julian Lewis, who chairs the Intelligence and Security Committee of parliament, mentioned: “How many times must a totalitarian communist state behave like a totalitarian communist state before the government will recognise it as a totalitarian communist state?”

Foreign secretray David Cameron beforehand mentioned Lai was focused “in a clear attempt to stop the peaceful exercise of his rights to freedom of expression and association”.

The media tycoon on Tuesday walked into the West Kowloon Law Court smiling and waving to his supporters amid heavy police presence. He additionally blew a kiss to the general public gallery as a supporter chanted: “Hang in there!”

Diplomats from no less than 10 consulates, together with these from the UK, the US, EU, Canada, and Australia, have been in attendance throughout the trial together with Lai’s spouse, son, and daughter.

The city-appointed judges – Esther Toh, Susana D’Almada Remedios and Alex Lee – heard Lai’s attorneys’ plea to dismiss the sedition costs as a result of “time bar”.

Robert Pang, the lead counsel for Lai, argued on Tuesday that the prosecutors had laid the cost too late for the alleged conspiracy that ran between April 2019 and June 2021.

Mr. Pang on Monday mentioned Apple Daily revealed its last version on 24 June 2021 and the cost would have expired on 24 December. But the defendant was introduced earlier than the courtroom for the primary time on 28 December, no less than 4 days after the “time bar” had expired.

But prosecutor Anthony Chau mentioned the time restrict needs to be set primarily based on when the alleged conspiracy – involving no less than 160 articles – really ended.

Mr Chau mentioned it might be absurd if prosecutors have been required to cost a suspect each time an alleged offence got here to their information, making the case “fragmented” and “impracticable”.

The judges mentioned they’d decide on Friday. The trial is predicted to final about 80 days with no jury.

The US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller reiterated requires Lai’s launch. “We have deep concerns about the deterioration in protection for human rights and fundamental freedoms in Hong Kong and that includes the rule of law,” he mentioned.

Beijing has dismissed the criticism from Western governments, saying that Washington and London made irresponsible remarks and that go in opposition to worldwide legislation and the essential norms of worldwide relations.