Hong Kong courts should not delay the extradition hearing of a mainland Chinese businessman as the city has a role to play in helping partner jurisdictions prosecute suspects, a lawyer for the government says.
The businessman, Xiao Hui, has requested an adjournment pending the result of his claim for asylum in Hong Kong - which he is seeking to avoid being sent back to mainland China or Australia. The Australian authorities have declared him a fugitive accused of insider trading in takeover bids in 2011.
Eastern Court heard yesterday that the Hong Kong government signed an agreement in the 1990s with the Australian government for the surrender of accused and convicted persons.
"The Hong Kong government plays an international part to help [the Australian government] pursue their prosecution," deputy principal government counsel Linda Lam Mei-sau said.
Xiao, 39, a former senior executive at the Sichuan Hanlong Group based in mainland China, came under investigation by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission in 2011.
He is suspected of involvement in 104 insider-trading offences related to Hanlong's takeover bids for two Australian companies, Sundance Resources and Bannerman Resources.
The businessman resigned from Hanlong in November 2011 and left Australia, but was arrested in Hong Kong this January as he crossed the border from Shenzhen. On February 28 he applied for asylum, claiming he and his family were under threat.
Yesterday, Lam said Hong Kong laws provided for the rights of an arrested person, ensuring his detention would be justified.
Such a person was sufficiently protected under the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance, which lists the conditions in which a person could not be handed over, she said.
According to the law, if the person might be prejudiced at his trial or punished, detained or restricted in his personal liberty by reason of his race, religion, nationality or political opinions, he should not be surrendered, Lam said.
Xiao could show the relevant proof during his extradition hearing, the government counsel added.
It was not necessary to adjourn the case for his asylum application to proceed first, Lam said, adding that both could be dealt with in parallel.
She also noted that the asylum application was a matter for the Immigration Department to deal with.
Lam will continue presenting her case on April 10 before Magistrate Symon Wong Yu-wing.
The former chairman of Hanlong, Liu Han, 48, is on trial on the mainland over 15 charges, including murder, financial crimes, running casinos and illegal sales of firearms.