Jury still out in corruption trial of Hong Kong’s former leader Donald Tsang
Deliberations took nine hours on first day with jury returning three times to ask questions
Nine jurors have yet to decide the fate of former chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen in his corruption and misconduct trial, after they failed to reach a verdict on their first day of deliberations.
The deliberations lasted for nine hours at the High Court yesterday, with the jurors raising questions on three occasions for the judge, Mr Justice Andrew Chan Hing-wai, to clarify.
The eight women and one man were sent away to deliberate at 10.47am after a six-week trial that saw the prosecution portray Tsang as the protagonist of “a story of greed”.
Sporting his customary bow tie and breaking into occasional smiles, Tsang arrived at the High Court with his wife, Selina Tsang Pou Siu-mei. Tsang’s two sons,
Simon Tsang Hing-yin and Thomas Tsang Hing-shun, were there as well.
Also present to show their support were the former chief executive’s siblings: brothers Norman Tsang Yam-huen, Charles Tsang Yam-chuen and former police commissioner Tsang Yam-pui, along with sister Katherine Tsang King-suen.
Former lawmaker Audrey Eu Yuet-mee, a founding member of the Civic Party, who was in the court building on other business, made an unexpected appearance to greet Tsang. “I hope he gets through this,” Eu, a senior counsel, said.
When reporters passed on her regards later, Tsang replied: “You’re all very kind.”
Tsang, 72, has denied two counts of misconduct in public office and one of a chief executive accepting an advantage between 2010 and 2012.
He is accused of deliberately concealing from the Executive Council his ties with businessman Bill Wong Cho-bau over a three-storey penthouse in Shenzhen, when the council approved various applications, including for a digital audio broadcasting licence for radio station Wave Media, of which Wong was a shareholder.
While Tsang’s defence said he had paid Wong 800,000 yuan (HK$903,000) as rent at market rate, the prosecutor argued the money was for a secret deal to buy the flat at an undervalued price or a “licence to occupy” the flat for as long as he wanted.
The penthouse at East Pacific Garden was owned by Wong’s companies, which also paid for the property’s HK$3.35 million refurbishment fee, the prosecutor alleged.
Tsang is further accused of putting forward interior designer Barrie Ho Chow-lai for an honour under the city’s awards system, without revealing to relevant government bodies that Ho was engaged in the design work for the penthouse.
The prosecution’s case relies on a number of inferences, which the defence rejected as “nothing more than an invitation to speculate”.
The jury yesterday asked the judge to give simple examples as to how to decide whether someone had deliberately concealed something just by drawing inferences without direct evidence.