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Hong Kong court won’t quash Jimmy Lai’s sedition charge – DW – 12/22/2023

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A court in Hong Kong on Friday rejected jailed pro-democracy activist Jimmy Lai’s appeal to revoke a sedition charge against him during his trial, which has gained international attention.

Lai is in the dock for “collusion” with foreign forces and has been charged under the Beijing imposed national security law. If found guilty, he could be sentenced to life in prison.

He has also been accused of “conspiracy to produce seditious publications.”

His legal team argued for the nullification of the sedition charge as the prosecution acted late — after the six-month deadline mandated by Hong Kong law.

However, the court rejected the appeal.

“We are of the view the charge is not time-barred, so the application of the defence must fail,” Judge Esther Toh ruled on Friday as she agreed with the prosecutors’ interpretation of how to calculate that window. 

Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Jimmy Lai goes on trial

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The case has been adjourned to January 2. The trial is expected to last about 80 days and will be decided by a judge rather than a jury.

Who is Jimmy Lai and why has his trial gained widespread attention?

The 76-year-old Lai founded the now shutdown Chinese-language tabloid Apple Daily — a pro-democracy newspaper that was critical of Beijing.

He is a British citizen and  his imprisonment has been condemned by the UK and the US, which have also demanded his release.

His case has gained international attention as it is being viewed by many as a litmus test for Hong Kong’s political freedom and judicial independence.

Hong Kong is a former British colony and was handed over to Chinese rule in 1997 with the promise that it would stay autonomous. The city’s autonomous characteristics, however, have increasingly diminished in recent years as China exerts more and more influence on the city. Beijing regards Hong Kong as part of its territory. 

Why does Beijing consider Jimmy Lai to be such a threat?

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mfi/sms (AP, AFP)

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