Jimmy Lai’s national security trial: Hong Kong court adjourns ruling on dismissal of sedition charge

by Brian Wong,Jess Ma and Edith Lin at scmp.com

Three judges presiding over the national security trial of Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai Chee-ying have adjourned their decision on whether to dismiss a sedition charge against him until Friday.

The adjournment came after Lai’s counsel made further submissions on Tuesday in support of an application for the conspiracy charge, involving 161 allegedly seditious publications by the now-defunct Apple Daily tabloid newspaper, to be dropped on the grounds that it was filed out of time.

Counsel for the 76-year-old tycoon on Monday, the first day of the trial, proposed an interpretation of colonial-era legislation, which would require the prosecution to have laid the sedition charge against Lai by October 2019, six months after his first alleged breach of the 1938 law.

Lai is facing three conspiracy charges relating to sedition and collusion with foreign forces for allegedly drawing international sanctions against authorities and inciting public hatred in the wake of anti-government protests in 2019, sparked by a now-withdrawn extradition bill.

The two collusion counts stemmed from the national security law imposed by Beijing in 2020, which also bans acts of secession, subversion and terrorism.

The sedition charge is outlined in the 1938 Sedition Ordinance, which was incorporated into the Crimes Ordinance in 1972. The ordinance provides that no sedition charge should be filed more than six months after the alleged transgression.

The court debate has centred on how the deadline for filing a sedition complaint should be determined.