Lai home for Christmas on $10m bail

Top News | Sophie Hui and Michael Shum 24 Dec 2020

Next Digital founder Jimmy Lai Chee-ying was finally granted bail of HK$10 million cash and HK$300,000 in sureties by the High Court so he can spend Christmas with his family pending trial.

The High Court also turned down the application by the prosecution to appeal the bail decision to the Court of Final Appeal later in the day.

The 73-year-old media mogul has been remanded in custody at Lai Chi Kok Reception Centre since December 3.

Lai was represented by senior counsel Peter Duncan, while the prosecution was represented by Senior Assistance Director of Public Prosecutions Anthony Chau Tin-hang.

Duncan convinced Justice Alex Lee Wan-tang that Lai is willing to wear electronic ankle tags hours after former director of public prosecutions Grenville Cross proposed the idea in case Lai tries to flee.

But Lee, a designated judge for national security cases, did not request Lai to wear one.

The prosecution applied for a court order that will keep Lai in custody. But Lee said the ordinance is not applicable in this case.

It is also understood that the prosecution will appeal to the Court of Final Appeal this morning, but Lai was expected to leave the court cell for home last night.

As per the conditions of bail, Lai cannot leave Hong Kong, must hand over all travel documents and report to the police three times a week.

Lai also cannot conduct any "hostile activity" against the SAR and China including sanctions and blockades, under the instruction, control or funding of foreign organizations or personnel. This means he is prohibited to meet foreign officials, give any interviews or post articles, as well as comment on social media.

His two sons, Timothy Lai Kin-yang and Ian Lai Yiu-yan, colleagues at the media group and a number of pro-democracy figures including Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, former lawmakers Albert Ho Chun-yan, Wu Chi-wai and "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung, supported him in court yesterday.

Lai has been remanded in custody on a fraud charge since December 3.

Lai and his co-defendants, Next Digital's chief operating officer Royston Chow Tat-kuen, 63, and administration director Wong Wai-keung, 59, face a joint count of fraud for allegedly deceiving Hong Kong Science Park over the use of an industrial estate.

On December 12, Lai was brought before West Kowloon Magistrates' Court again, charged with colluding with foreign powers under the national security law.

Chief magistrate Victor So Wai-tak, a designated judge for national security cases, denied Lai bail and adjourned the hearing until April 16.

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