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Opposition to Donald Tsang retrial ‘a tough ask’, say Hong Kong law experts

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Justice Department considers whether to press for a retrial on a bribery charge on which a nine-person jury could not reach a majority verdict
Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, the former Hong Kong leader who has been , may have a tough case to argue against a retrial on an inconclusive bribery charge if prosecutors continue to press that option, legal experts say. His fate hangs in the air as the High Court is expected to hand down a sentence for his conviction in the coming week, after a nine-member jury on Friday night found him guilty on the misconduct charge, which carries a maximum sentence of seven years in prison. He may also lose his pension and a top honour, the Grand Bauhinia. That charge accused Tsang, 72, of concealing from his cabinet his negotiation over a belonging to a company chaired by businessman Bill Wong Cho-bau between 2010 and 2012, during which time he approved a digital audio broadcasting licence for a radio station of which Wong was a shareholder. Adding to his plight is a looming application by the Justice Department for a retrial on the bribery charge, over which the jurors were unable to reach a majority verdict, the has learned. Under that charge, the former chief executive was accused of accepting free redecoration of the penthouse, which cost HK$3.35 million and was paid by Wong’s company. The department said a decision about seeking a retrial was yet to be made. Simon Young Ngai-min, criminal law professor at the University of Hong Kong, said it would remain the prosecution’s prerogative to bring the bribery charge to trial again. “Only if the retrial would amount to an abuse of process can the court step in to halt the prosecution,” he said. “It would need to be shown that a fair trial was impossible. “I doubt if either condition can be demonstrated in this case,” he added. Generally, there is a high threshold to meet if a defendant wants to argue that a fair trial is not possible for a retrial, said Eric Cheung Tat-ming, director of clinical legal education at the University of Hong Kong.

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