Thursday, 24 March 2016

Crime in Hong Kong, Trial in Shenzhen

Bossini heiress Queenie Rosita Law spoke to the media after her ordeal
Nine men are on trial related to the kidnapping of Bossini heiress Queenie Rosita Law.

Six of them are charged with kidnapping, three others -- including a Hong Kong resident -- are charged for handling stolen property.

Law was kidnapped last April from her luxury home in Sai Kung, and the kidnappers demanded a ransom of HK$48 million, but the amount was later negotiated down to HK$28 million.

Mainland police hold up some evidence that was recovered
After three days she was freed when the ransom was paid and then the nine were eventually caught.

The strange thing about this case is that it is being heard in Shenzhen Intermediate Court and not in Hong Kong.

Even lawyers on both sides of the border have questioned the arrangement for the mainland courts to handle the case as the principal acts took place in Hong Kong.

But the mainland authorities insist they have jurisdiction over the case, arguing the gang had plotted the crime in Shenzhen.

While the suspects were caught in Guangdong and Guizhou provinces, Hong Kong police arrested alleged kidnapper Zheng Xingwang at the city's immigration control point in May last year. He is the only suspect in the case who will be tried in Hong Kong.

Law Society vice-president Thomas So agreed that the mainland authorities had jurisdiction over the case, which is of a "cross-border" nature.

"While the kidnapping took place in Hong Kong, some of the plotting was done on the mainland, he said. "If either of the jurisdictions makes the arrests, the trial can take place there."

One of the suspects was brought to one of the crime scenes
But University of Hong Kong principal law lecturer Eric Cheung Tat-ming said the case showed the lack of mechanisms under which Hong Kong could prove itself to be a more suitable venue than the mainland to hear certain cases.

One such example is the trial of "Big Spender" Cheung Tsz-keung by Guangdong courts in the 1990s. Cheung was sentenced to death and executed.

A mainland lawyer working on the Bossini kidnapping case, who refused to be named, agreed that Hong Kong's judicial independence would be eroded in this case.

It is understood Hong Kong police provided their counterparts across the border with related documents and photographs of the HK$4 million worth of jewellery stolen from Law's home. Practically all the cash was finally recovered.

This is an indictment on Hong Kong's pride of having the value of rule of law -- but can't even do that in this particular case.

The crime took place in Hong Kong so why can it not be tried in the city? To say that the trial should be in Shenzhen because the kidnapping was planned there seems like a weak argument, though it is true there aren't mechanisms to deal with situations like this.

Why were these scenarios not sorted out when the Basic Law was being hammered out? How could something like this be overlooked?



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