COURTS

Judge orders more seats for reporters covering Kwok graft trial

Judge orders more seats be put aside for reporters forced to queue for hours

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 10 May, 2014, 2:59am
UPDATED : Saturday, 10 May, 2014, 12:55pm

Journalists forced to queue from before dawn outside the High Court in Admiralty for a chance to witness the most high-profile graft case in Hong Kong's history may be getting some respite.

Mr Justice Andrew Macrae said yesterday four more seats would be added to the 15 available for journalists.

He was speaking at the close of the second day of the trial of former chief secretary Rafael Hui Si-yan and billionaire brothers Thomas Kwok Ping-kwong and Raymond Kwok Ping-luen, chairmen of Sun Hung Kai Properties (SHKP).

Macrae said he had received a letter from the head of RTHK news complaining about the limited seating.

Those in the predawn queue were spared the worst of the downpour that lashed Hong Kong overnight.

Inside the Court of First Instance, pre-trial legal procedures got under way yesterday.

A court ban on reporting details of the case is continuing until a jury is impanelled.

Hui, 66, faces eight charges related to bribery and misconduct in public office.

Thomas Kwok, 62, faces one charge of conspiracy to offer an advantage to Hui and two counts of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office.

Raymond Kwok, 61, faces four charges, including one count of furnishing false information with Hui.

Co-defendants Thomas Chan Kui-yuen, executive director of SHKP, and former Hong Kong stock exchange official Francis Kwan Hung-sang each face two charges.

All have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

When the hearing started on Thursday, dozens of journalists who failed to get a seat in the courtroom were left watching a live broadcast in the lobby of the same floor.

The case yesterday drew a visit from high-flying telecommunications executive Linus Cheung Wing-lam. "I've known Hui for 40 years. He's been my friend for decades," Cheung, who was a year behind Hui at university, said. "I've also known the Kwoks for a decade or two - friends in the business field."

The case continues on Monday.