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Day 78: May 17, 2024

The Witness: Live Update | 78th Day of Jimmy Lai’s Trial: National Security Officer Describes Taking Chan Tsz-wah’s Statement

Jimmy Lai, founder of Next Digital, along with three related companies of Apple Daily, are charged with “conspiracy to collude with foreign forces” and other crimes. The trial continued on its 78th day at the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts (acting as the High Court) on Friday (17th). During cross-examination by the defense, a national security officer described the process of taking a statement from Chan Tsz-wah at the detention center.

The case is presided over by High Court judges designated under the National Security Law: Esther Toh Lye-ping, Susana Maria D’Almada Remedios, and Alex Lee Wan-tang. The prosecution is represented by Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Anthony Chau Tin-hang, Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions Ivan Cheung Cheuk-kan, and Senior Public Prosecutor Crystal Chan Wing-sum. Jimmy Lai is represented by Senior Counsel Robert Pang Yiu-hung, Barrister Steven Kwan, and New Zealand Queen’s Counsel Marc Corlett.

13:00 Court adjourned

12:50 Defense: Applying for Cheung Kim-hung’s visitation records from the Correctional Services Department

The defense mentioned that they are applying for Cheung Kim-hung’s visitation records from the Correctional Services Department and hope to question Lai about this later. Judge Esther Toh Lye-ping questioned the relevance of the defense’s inquiry to their case, stating that unless the defense alleges that the witness was coerced into fabricating testimony during the statement-taking process, even if the witness discussed the testimony with the police, it would not aid the defense’s case.

The defense argued that the police had instructed the witness on how to record statements. Judge Alex Lee Wan-tang noted that during previous questioning, the defense did not use terms such as “coaching,” “fabrication,” and “rehearsing” in relation to testimony. The defense mentioned they had used terms like “persuade.”

After a court recess for discussions between both parties, the court issued an order that no one, including the media and the public, may disclose any information regarding the identity, location, or any details that could jeopardize the safety of witnesses under the witness protection program, to avoid undermining judicial fairness; violations could lead to contempt of court charges.

The case was adjourned until next Monday (20th) for continuation.

10:08 National Security Police Testify on Recording Chan Tsz-wah’s Statement

National security officer Lai Kwok-yung continued his testimony, with the defense focusing on his visits to Chan Tsz-wah. Previously noted, from August to November 9, 2022, Lai visited Chan 14 times; Lai agreed. 

The defense inquired about the visit on November 9, pointing to Lai’s occurrence book, which noted that Sergeant 1237 left the base at 10 a.m. the following morning to conduct an investigation at the detention center. The defense also presented an investigation report written by Sergeant 1237. Lai cited that from 11 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. that day, he and Sergeant 1237 met with Chan Tsz-wah in the detention center’s meeting room, where Sergeant 1237 took a 6-page statement.

In court, Lai added that he and Sergeant 1237 went to the meeting room, tasked with recording Chan’s statement, with Sergeant 1237 in charge. Lai then coordinated with correctional staff on how to print the statement for Chan Tsz-wah to sign.

Court convened at 10:04.

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