Jimmy Lai: Son of Briton jailed in China hits out at ‘textbook show trial’

Jimmy Lai, 76, a life-long critic of Beijing, faces a life sentence under charges described as politically motivated

Alexander Butler
Wednesday 20 December 2023 18:11 GMT
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Jimmy Lai's National Security Trial Begins in Hong Kong - TaiwanPlus News

The son of a jailed British citizen detained by China has hit out at his father’s “textbook show trial” designed to scare Beijing’s critics.

Sebastien Lai, who is the son of 76-year-old Jimmy Lai, said his father had no chance of a fair trial which began on Monday and the Chinese government were keeping him in jail to intimidate those who didn’t bend to its will.

Mr Lai, a life-long opponent of the Chinese Communist Party, is facing a life sentence under charges described as politically motivated after being locked up for three years.

Sebastien Lai told The Independent: “It’s a textbook show trial. There is no jury and there are three government-appointed judges. The minister of security even boasted of a 100 per cent conviction rate.”

He added: “They want everyone to know this is what happens to you if you criticise us and don’t bend to their will. But we will keep fighting until he is out.”

Mr Lai is facing a life sentence under charges described as politically motivated after being locked up for three years
Mr Lai is facing a life sentence under charges described as politically motivated after being locked up for three years (Al Jazeera)

Mr Lai was the founder of Hong Kong’s tabloid newspaper Apple Daily which was highly critical of the Chinese Communist Party for over the two decades it was printed.

On Tuesday, Mr Lai’s lawyer toldThe Independent his trial was an act of censorship intended to tell others who challenge China’s “bully regime” to be silent.

“This is an act of censorship and intimidation by a bully regime, targeting Jimmy Lai for his journalism and peaceful pro-democracy activities,” Caoilfhionn Gallagher KC told The Independent.

His trial, which has been delayed for a year, is set to last for about 80 days. He is one of more than 250 activists, lawmakers and protesters detained under the national security law and sedition charges.

A truck believed to be carrying Jimmy Lai arrives at West Kowloon Magistrates’ Court on Monday. His son said he had no chance of a fair trial
A truck believed to be carrying Jimmy Lai arrives at West Kowloon Magistrates’ Court on Monday. His son said he had no chance of a fair trial (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Mr Lai was was charged with four offences under China’s national security law, one of which included lighting a candle in commemoration of the Tiananmen Square Massacre of 1989.

The national security law was passed following Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests in 2019, which saw millions demonstrate against a Bill which would have given the city-state’s judicial system power to extradite suspected criminals to face trial in mainland China.

On Sunday, UK foreign secretary Lord Cameron urged Chinese authorities to release Mr Lai and end his “politically-motivated” persecution.

“I am gravely concerned that anyone is facing prosecution under the national security law, and particularly concerned at the politically-motivated prosecution of British national Jimmy Lai. I call on the Hong Kong authorities to end their prosecution and release him,” he said.

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