The agony of waiting - Another sleepless night for Tsang as jury retires

Top News | Phoebe Ng 17 Feb 2017

The jury of nine who will decide if former chief executive Donald Tsang Yam- kuen is guilty of bribery and misconduct or not resumes deliberation this morning after failing to reach a verdict despite a nine-hour marathon session yesterday.

The eight women and one man started considering the case from about 11am yesterday and made two requests to the judge for directions - which will not be answered until this morning.

With his fate hanging in the air, Tsang appeared more jittery than normal.

Asked how confident he felt, he only responded to journalists by saying "thank you, everyone," as he left the High Court at 8.15pm together with his wife.

High Court Justice Andrew Chan Hing-wai finally finished giving jury directions at 10.48am. Sending the jury out, he said they should "strive to reach a unanimous verdict, whether guilty or not." He will accept a majority of at least seven to two.

During the day, counsels for both sides were called to deal with two questions from the jury.

When the jury returned at 7.56pm, they were told that no response would be made regarding their two questions until this morning.

"I am not giving you an answer now, because it is almost eight o'clock," Chan said. "It has been a long day for you."

He then instructed the court usher to escort the jurors to their accommodations.

While the male jury member got his own room, the eight women had to share just one.

Jury members looked rather surprised on hearing that their questions would not be answered.

For the first request, the panel asked, "How to reach a verdict and based on what do they reach the verdict?" in the absence of direct evidence. This was regarding two elements in the third count of misconduct in public office, which states the misconduct should be "a willful or deliberate act or omission" and "without reasonable excuse of justification."

Chan was also asked if it was "necessary to prove the advantage received was a reward" for certain elements in the first count of bribery.

Tsang, 72, denies one count of bribery and two counts of misconduct in public office over events that took place between 2010 and 2012.

The trial,which started on January 10, lasted 22 days in total. Hong Kong's former chief executive allegedly accepted an advantage from Bill Wong Cho-bau, a shareholder of Wave Media.

Chief prosecutor David Perry, QC, accused Tsang of not declaring several conflicts of interest, including a rental arrangement with Wong while dealing with Wave Media's licensing applications.

He was also accused of accepting free decoration work from Wong and later nominating the flat's interior designer for a government honor.

All three counts could carry up to seven years' imprisonment.

In a media interview in 2012 submitted as evidence, Tsang said he was "whiter than white."

Most of Tsang's family members showed up to support him yesterday, including his brothers, sisters and sons. Sister Katherine Tsang King-suen gave a thumbs up when asked in the morning if she was confident about the case.

Politician and barrister Audrey Eu Yuet-mee also went to the High Court for a brief "hello" through the glass of a consultation room.

However, the mood seemed to change after the jury was sent out. Looking rather tense and worried, Tsang's family then spent almost half an hour in discussions in a consultation room.

The group of 10 then left for lunch at the Ladies Recreation Club in Old Peak Road before returning for the afternoon session.

Tsang led Hong Kong for seven years from 2005 as chief executive and is the highest-ranking Hong Kong official to face a bribery trial.

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