LIVE: Hong Kong's biggest ever corruption trial - all defendants plead 'not guilty'

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 08 May, 2014, 9:03am
UPDATED : Thursday, 08 May, 2014, 6:11pm

The biggest graft trial in Hong Kong's history opened today, with the city's former number two official and the co-chairmen of one of the world's major real estate firms in the dock. Former chief secretary Rafael Hui Si-yan is accused of receiving HK$34 million in bribes and other financial inducements from billionaire brothers Thomas Kwok Ping-kwong and Raymond Kwok Ping-luen, the chairmen of Sun Hung Kai Properties (SHKP).

12.10pm: The court has reconvened and the rest of the day is expected to be taken up with procedural arguments that cannot be reported for legal reasons. The jury is unlikely to be sworn in today. We will wrap up our live coverage of the event for now, but will be on hand to bring you any updates or breaking news during the afternoon.

11.30am: The court takes a break for 20 minutes, with defendants and their lawyers filing out of courtroom number seven. Hui goes into a consultation room with his lawyers, while the Kwoks and their legal team go into a separate room.

11.22am: All five defendants have sat down after denying all of the charges against them. As the charges were read out Thomas Kwok wore a headset for translation. Outside the courtroom, in the fifth floor lobby, proceedings were projected onto three screens for the benefit of some 200 media representatives and members of the public present.

11.17am: Rafael Hui pleads 'not guilty' to count 8: misconduct in public office.

11.14am: All five defendants plead 'not guilty' to count 7: conspiracy to offer an advantage to a public servant

11.09am: Rafael Hui pleads 'not guilty' to count 6: misconduct in public office.

11.06am: All five defendants plead 'not guilty' to count 5: conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office.

11.02am: Rafael Hui and Raymond Kwok plead 'not guilty' to count 4: furnishing false information. 

10.56am: Rafael Hui and Thomas Kwok plead 'not guilty' to count 2, conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office; Rafael Hui and Raymond Kwok plead 'not guilty' to count 3, conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office.

10.51am: Rafael Hui pleads 'not guilty' to count 1: misconduct in a public office.

10.48am: Inside the courtroom Hui and the Kwoks are seated at a table at the front of the dock, while the two other defendants are sitting behind them. There are three security officers standing by in the dock.

10.24am: The judge tells the press covering the case to be mindful of reporting laws. "I cannot stress this too highly. Please remain within the boundaries this court has set you," he says. 

10.03am: The judge, Mr Justice Andrew Macrae, arrives. The court rises for him. He will spend the next 70 days hearing the trial, with evidence from 82 prosecution witnesses. The defendants are Rafael Hui, Thomas Kwok, Raymond Kwok, SHKP executive director Thomas Chan Kui-yuen, and former Hong Kong Stock Exchange official Francis Kwan Hung-sang.

9.55am: With just five minutes to go before the trial is due to start, the fifth floor lobby outside courtroom number seven of the Court of First Instance is crowded with the five defendants' lawyers, boxes of documents and more than 100 reporters. There are just 15 seats allocated to reporters in the courtroom itself. Due to the first come first served arrangement a South China Morning Post reporter had to arrive at 5.15am to secure a spot.

9.38am: Thomas Kwok arrives at court in a silver SUV. Outside the building he stops, adjusts his tie and smiles for the cameras, before walking through the doors.

9.30am: Raymond Kwok arrives at the court in a white SUV, smiling as he walks past a host of photographers and enters the building. A large screen is due to be set up in the fifth floor lobby to broadcast proceedings and accommodate all the reporters who won't fit into the courtroom.

9am: The main entrance to the Court of First Instance is crowded with reporters and TV cameras as they await the arrival of the defendants. Rooms on the fifth floor, where the trial will be held are filling up with dozens of eager reporters from both local and international media. The case is certain to thrust Hong Kong into the world's spotlight.

Watch: Hong Kong property moguls on trial in huge graft case