▲Jimmy Lai Photo: VCG
Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai Chee-ying was granted a HK$ 10 million ($1.29 million) bail on Wednesday by the Hong Kong High Court after being charged with fraud and violating the national security law for Hong Kong.
Hong Kong’s Department of Justice filed an appeal before the Court of Final Appeal to continue Lai’s detention until the next trial scheduled in April 2021.
Lai was required to stay at home except to stand trial, and report his whereabouts to police three times a week. Lai was also asked to turn in his travel documents, Hong Kong news site on.cc reported.
The case was handled by Justice Alex Lee, a High Court judge designated to handle national security law cases.
A Hong Kong-based legal expert believes the judge granted Lai bail because he thinks Lai would not violate the law again.
According to the national security law for Hong Kong, the judge can grant bail to a defendant only when the judge believes the person will not strike again, Lawrence Ma, a barrister and chairman of the Hong Kong Legal Exchange Foundation, told the Global Times on Wednesday.
Ma noted the Justice Department appeal was the correct move since Lai is an anti-government die-hard. Even if he promised he would not violate the law again, he should not be believed.
Lai’s bail conditions also include not meeting any foreign officials, not accepting interviews in any form (television and social media), not publishing articles directly and indirectly to call for foreign sanctions on Hong Kong, media reported.
Lai was arrested on December 3 after a trial on a fraud case, where his Apple Daily allowed a consulting firm to use its tech park properties, which allegedly violated the contract between Apple Daily and the tech park.
Chief Magistrate Victor So Wai-tak denied Lai’s bail application after the trial.
A week later, the 73-year-old stood trial again for allegedly colluding with foreign forces and jeopardizing national security under the national security law for Hong Kong. Chief Magistrate So, who is also assigned to handle national security law cases, rejected Lai’s application again.