Secret hearing below standard, says Amnesty

PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 October, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 23 October, 1998, 12:00am

Amnesty International yesterday attacked the handling of the 'Big Spender' hearing, saying it contravenes international standards on fair trials.

The pressure group criticised the secrecy under which the Cheung Tze-keung trial was being conducted, with the public and foreign media banned from attending.

It also criticised the use of the death penalty as the ultimate punishment, should Cheung and 18 other co-defendants from Hong Kong be convicted.

'Amnesty International is concerned that they will receive the death penalty after an unfair trial and thereafter face possible execution,' Amnesty said in a written statement.

'The defendants do have the right of appeal after sentence but the success of such appeals are rare.' The death penalty violates the right to life guaranteed under Article 3 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, according to the watchdog's statement.

The organisation has urged the public to send appeals to Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa, the Xinhua news agency and mainland authorities, including the governor of Guangdong and the president of the Supreme People's Court.

A spokesman for the Chief Executive's Office said yesterday that it had so far received two protest letters from individuals.

'We have referred the letters to the Secretary for Security to reply on behalf of the Chief Executive,' the spokesman said.

The Security Bureau said it had received the letters and was 'studying them in detail'.