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Day 8: January 9, 2024

Ming Pao: Jimmy Lai Trial | Cheung Kim-hung’s testimony postponed the prosecution decides to read out expert witnesses’ testimonies first

“Next Media” founder Jimmy Lai and three “Apple Daily” companies were involved in a case of conspiracy to collude with foreign forces. Today the trial entered its 8th day (January 9). The defense applied yesterday to play all the video clips involved in the case. After discussions between the two sides, the prosecution decided to read out the witness statements first and then play the clips for more than an hour. As for the 24 clips involved in the case, the defense quoted the prosecution saying that it planned to play some of them during the witness calling, and the rest will be played before the prosecution finishes their statements.

The defendant Jimmy Lai appeared in court today wearing a brown leather jacket, and his wife and children continued to attend the court. Senior counsel Robert Pang, who represents Jimmy Lai, was absent from the hearing starting yesterday due to personal matters. The deputy prosecutor representing the prosecution said that Cheung Kim-hung, the former president of Apple Daily and co-defendant, was originally called to testify today. However, due to Pang’s “unforeseen circumstances,” he would read out the statements of the prosecution witness who were not required to appear in court, and then play 1 hour of relevant footage.

The defense stated that if the prosecution finishes reading the statements within one or two days and begins calling witnesses, it will wait until the prosecution completes its examination before considering applying to adjourn the case for no more than three days.

Associate Professor Chow Kam-pui of the Department of Computer Science at the University of Hong Kong gave expert testimony on the use of social platforms. His expertise includes cybercrime and computer forensics. Chow mentioned that Telegram users are displayed with their own names, and their phone numbers can be set as public or private. Users can start conversations with others, join groups or channels, which are divided into general and confidential conversations; groups and channels are also divided into private or public, and the settings can be changed at any time.

What the three platforms have in common is that they all have web versions. Each mobile phone can only register one user, and users can delete information. If the Telegram message has been deleted, no record will be left for the other party; as far as WhatsApp is concerned, if the deletion is unsuccessful, the other party can still see the message. WhatsApp and Telegram users can edit messages at the same time, but this feature had not been introduced in WhatsApp at the time of the case.

Ming Pao

The Witness: Jimmy Lai’s Trial Day 8 | Prosecutors read out expert testimony and play the footages of Lai’s meetings

Next Media founder Jimmy Lai and three companies related to “Apple Daily” were charged with “conspiracy to collude with foreign forces” and other crimes. The trial entered its eighth day at the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Court (provisional High Court) on Tuesday (January 9).

The defendant’s legal team told the reporters that after the prosecution completes the examination of the first witness Cheung Kim-hung, they will apply to adjourn the case for no more than three days, pending cross-examination by Senior Counsel Robert Pang Yiu-hung. The prosecution is now reading out expert witness statements explaining the operation of social media, and is expected to play Jimmy Lai’s video interview records after reading the witnesses’ written statements. The case will be resumed in the afternoon.

The case was heard by Esther Toh Lye-ping, Susana Maria D’Almada Remedios, Alex Lee Wan-tang, judges designated by the National Security Law of the High Court. The prosecution was represented by Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Anthony Chau Tin-hang and Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions Ivan Cheung Cheuk-kan; Jimmy Lai was represented by Senior Counsel Robert Pang Yiu-hung, Barrister Steven Kwan and New Zealand King’s Counsel Marc Corlett, who is qualified to practice in Hong Kong.

Defense: Excerpts from Lai’s talk show will be played when witnesses give testimony

The defense requested that the prosecution play the complete footage involved in the case in court on Monday (January 8), and the judges adjourned the case until the prosecution and defense discussed how to play the clips. Barrister Kwan said on Tuesday (January 9) that clips from Lai’s talk show “Live Chat with Jimmy Lai” will be played when witnesses give their testimony.

The prosecution, Anthony Chau said that the first prosecution witness Cheung Kim-hung was originally scheduled to be called today. However, considering that the defense senior counsel Robert Pang will be absent from the trial for the next two weeks, the written testimonies of other witnesses will be read first in order to make good use of court time. Steven Kwan expressed no objection and expected that after reading the written witness statements, an approximately one-hour long’s meeting video involving Jimmy Lai would be played. He also revealed that after the prosecution completes Cheung Kim-hung’s witness examination, the defense legal team will apply for an adjournment for no more than three days. So that Robert Pang can cross-examine the witness.

Prosecution reads expert witness statements about social media operations

Prosecutor Ivan Cheung Cheuk-kan read out a statement by expert witness Chow Kam-pui, an associate professor of the Department of Computer Science at the University of Hong Kong. Chow said that he received a notification from the police in March 2022 to provide expert opinions on this case and explain the operation of social media such as Telegram, WhatsApp, Signal, Facebook and Telegram. For example, Telegram has the function of hiding phone numbers and inviting others to join the group through links.

The Witness

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