Donald Tsang’s fate rests in a court of law not court of morals, Hong Kong judge tells jurors
Mr Justice Andrew Chan gives directions to nine jurors before they retire to consider their verdict after five-week corruption trial
Former chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen’s fate rests in a court of law, “not a court of morals”, the judge reminded the jury as he gave final directions in the corruption case which is drawing to a close.
Mr Justice Andrew Chan Hing-wai reminded the jurors not to speculate on missing evidence including what might have been said by Bank of East Asia chairman David Li Kwok-po, who the Independent Commission Against Corruption chose not to interview over concerns he would not cooperate.
Tsang, 72, who has been on trial for five weeks, is charged with two counts of misconduct in public office over failing to declare conflicts of interest and one of a chief executive accepting an advantage between 2010 and 2012. Each charge carries a maximum seven-year jail sentence.
The prosecution said Tsang was negotiating with businessman Bill Wong Cho-bau over a three-storey, 6,700 sq ft luxury apartment in Shenzhen at the same time that the Executive Council he chaired approved a broadcasting licence for Wave Media, of which Wong was a majority shareholder. It is alleged Tsang deliberately concealed his dealings with Wong from the council.
Tsang is also accused of failing to disclose his relationship with designer Barrie Ho Chow-lai, who Tsang put forward for an award without revealing to relevant government bodies that Ho was redecorating the Shenzhen property to his wife Selina Tsang Pou Siu-mei’s specifications.
Prosecution and defence lawyers finished their closing statements last week, and on Tuesday Chan began his final directions to the jury – the last step before the nine jurors are sent out to reach a verdict.
Chan urged the jurors not to let antipathy or sympathy distract them, and not to be swayed by their personal views about collusion between businesses and politicians.
“It is not a court of morals, concerned with shameful conduct or behaviour,” he said.
The judge told them to decide only on the evidence that had been placed before them.
“You must not speculate about what evidence there might have been or allow yourselves to be drawn into speculation,” he told them.
“Please do not speculate what David Li would have said if he gave a statement to the ICAC.”
The prosecution alleged Li gave HK$350,000 in cash to Tsang. The cash formed part of a mysterious 800,000 yuan (HK$900,000) payment which the defence said was rent on the Shenzhen penthouse, but which the prosecution alleged could have been for the purchase of the property at well under market value.
ICAC Director of Investigation Ricky Yu Chun-cheong took the stand during the trial, telling the court his officers had opted not to question Li as they believed he would not cooperate.
Dozens of journalists and photographers have attended the court each day, and Chan said it would be “remarkable” if the jurors had not been exposed to their reports.
But he urged them to ignore anything they had heard outside the courtroom, including media reports and “gossip”.
Chan noted that where there was no direct evidence, the jury was entitled to draw inferences based on fact.
“Sometimes what exists in a man’s mind can only be proved through inferences.”