Verdict on Donald Tsang expected soon
Hong Kong’s former chief executive Donald Tsang Yamkuen’s fate may be decided in a day or two as a nine-member jury continues their deliberations in his corruption trial on this morning (Friday).
The jurors failed to reach a verdict after more than nine hours of discussions on Thursday.
Tsang is the highest-ranking official in the city’s history to be charged with misconduct and bribery. He is facing one charge of a chief executive accepting an advantage and two charges of misconduct while holding a public office between January 2010 and June 2012.
Tsang has denied all char- ges against him.
The charges centered on a 6,700-square-feet three-story luxury penthouse in Shenzhen, which Tsang rented from Bill Wong Chor-bau — a major shareholder of a radio broadcaster, Wave Media.
The broadcaster was later renamed Digital Broadcasting Corporation Hong Kong (DBC) and had its license application approved by the then Executive Council led by Tsang. However, Tsang was accused of failure to disclose his connection with Wong.
Tsang was also alleged to have withheld his acquaintance with the penthouse’s interior designer Barrie Ho Chow-lai when he recommended Ho for the city’s honor and award system.
Under the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance, a CE who accepts an advantage can be punished with a maximum fine of HK$500,000 and seven years in jail. Meanwhile, each of the two misconduct charges carries a maximum of seven years in jail.
About five hours after the jury started deliberations at the High Court on Thursday, the jurors sent Justice Andrew Chan Hing-wai, who presided over the trial, a note as they requested clarification over one of the misconduct charges.
They needed a “daily-life” example to help them understand and decide on whether Tsang was guilty of deliberately hiding his connection with the interior designer. Therefore, the judge resumed court proceedings, and both the prosecutor and defendant debated on the point.
Hours later, the jurors raised a further question on a separate misconduct charge. They wanted to make sure that whether they had to be certain in a direct link between the government’s awarding of the radio license to the DBC and Wong’s alleged provision of free renovations of the Shenzhen apartment.
However, they called it a day and went back to their accommodation at the High Court for the night as time ran out before the judge could provide answers to the question.
The judge briefed the jury that he will only accept a unanimous, or a majority verdict of at least seven to two.