Hong Kong sentences professional-democracy media tycoon to jail time over fraud

A Hong Kong court docket sentenced a expert-democracy media tycoon to 5 years and 9 months in jail on Saturday over two fraud fees linked to lease violations, the most modern in a collection of circumstances in opposition to distinguished activists that critics say are aimed in the direction of crushing dissent inside metropolis.

Jimmy Lai, who was arrested all by means of a crackdown on metropolis’s professional-democracy movement following widespread protests in 2019 and beneath the nationwide safety regulation imposed by Beijing, was additionally fined two million Hong Kong dollars ($353,000 Cdn).

His media agency, subsequent Digital, revealed the now-defunct professional-democracy newspaper Apple day by day. The publication was compelled to close following the arrests of its extreme executives, editors and journalists final 12 months.

In October, Lai was found responsible of fraud for subletting a part of the office residence to a secretarial agency, which was additionally managed by him, between 2016 and 2020. The second fraud depend was for letting the identical agency use the media outlet’s office residence in an alleged breach of lease agreements from 1998 to 2015.

The court docket inside the imply time dominated the strikes had violated lease agreements with the Hong Kong Science and expertise Parks Corp. and that Lai had hidden the exact incontrovertible actuality that the agency was occupying residence inside the constructing.

Handing down the sentences on Saturday, choose Stanley Chan mentioned the violations, which he referred to as “organized and deliberate,” occurred over twenty years and that Lai had used his media group as “an umbrella of safety.”

He mentioned Lai did not really feel responsible regarding the strikes, so there was no basis for the court docket to minimize again his jail time period.

Lai’s former colleague, Wong Wai-keung, who was convicted on a single cost of fraud over the case, should serve 21 months in jail, Chan added.

WATCH | Arrest in 2020 was broadly condemned: 

Arrest of Hong Kong tycoon Jimmy Lai sparks worldwide condemnation

Hong Kong billionaire and professional-democracy activist Jimmy Lai and a quantity of completely different members of his workers have been arrested by lots of of police beneath Beijing’s new nationwide safety regulation, sparking worldwide condemnation of what’s been referred to as the evisceration of Hong Kong’s rights.

Faces as a lot as life imprisonment in separate trial

Lai’s authorized staff earlier requested the United Nations to examine his imprisonment and a quantity of felony fees as “authorized harassment” to punish him for talking out. The tycoon was beforehand sentenced to twenty months in jail for his position in unauthorized assemblies.

A separate nationwide safety trial involving Lai, initially scheduled to start on Dec. 1, was postponed after Hong Kong chief John Lee requested China to effectively block him from hiring a British defence lawyer. If convicted, Lai faces as a lot as life imprisonment.

The enactment of the safety regulation has led to the arrests of many distinguished democracy activists inside the semi-autonomous chinese language metropolis. Hong Kong, a former British colony, returned to China’s rule in 1997.

It has additionally damaged religion inside the biggest approach forward for the worldwide monetary hub, with growing numbers of youthful professionals responding to the shrinking freedoms by transferring overseas.


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