Juror in former Hong Kong leader Donald Tsang’s bribery trial dismissed without explanation
Judge tells eight remaining jurors that ‘certain matters have taken place’ just a day before verdict may come in high-profile court case
A juror at the trial of Hong Kong’s former leader Donald Tsang Yam-kuen was dismissed on Wednesday, a day before the ex-top official may learn his fate.
High Court judge Mr Justice Andrew Chan Hing-wai told the remaining eight jurors that “certain matters have taken place”, when they returned to the courtroom to find Mr Q – how he was referred in court – missing from his seat. There were originally nine jurors.
“Until you are discharged for the jury service, you must not contact him,” he also told them.
Chan, who began to direct the jury on Tuesday before he was due to send them away on Thursday to begin deliberations, did not give any further explanation. He told jurors not to concern themselves with the removal.
“Please focus on the task you have at hand, that is paying attention to my summing up,” he said, adding that they would have to return a verdict afterwards.
The unexpected turn of events leaves only four men and four women to decide whether the former leader should be found guilty of a bribery charge involving his alleged acceptance of free renovation work, totalling HK$3.8 million, for his short-term retirement penthouse on the mainland.
The prosecutors said he had accepted the freebie from local radio station, Wave Media, for the three-storey penthouse in Shenzhen’s Pacific Garden, where he would stay temporarily after stepping down in 2012.
In return, they said, Tsang became “favourable disposed” to the broadcaster, whose majority shareholder Bill Wong Cho-bau is the owner of the penthouse and had footed the renovation bill.
Tears shed as defence for former Hong Kong leader Donald Tsang sums up closing argument at bribery trial
More of the former leader’s friends came to court in a show of support on Wednesday, including Vicar General of the Hong Kong Catholic Diocese Reverend Dominic Chan Chi-ming and the new provincial of Society of Jesus’s Chinese province, Reverend Stephen Chow Sau-yan.
Chan reminded the jurors of the testimonies given by all the prosecution witnesses. He cited Barrie Ho Chow-lai, the designer hired by Wong to renovate the penthouse, saying that he had taken instructions from Tsang’s wife when he worked on the house.
On one occasion, Chan said, Selina Tsang Pou Siu-mei went to the mainland penthouse with a feng shui master for an inspection. But the work stopped after the property came under media scrutiny, which Ho found strange, the judge said.
Defence lawyer for Donald Tsang compares bribery case to Chinese martial arts novels in closing argument
The then deputy private secretary of Tsang’s office, Kevin Choi, testified earlier that Tsang had never told him about paying 800,000 yuan in rent to Wong in 2011, he told the jury.
Choi said that Tsang was the chief servant in the government, so people would expect the highest standard from him.
Chan is expected to finish his instruction for the jury on Thursday, after which the jury would be sent away to deliberate the verdict.