Apple Daily founder Jimmy Lai Chee-ying has a case to answer for allegedly intimidating a reporter from a rival newspaper three years ago, a court ruled on Monday.
Magistrate May Chung Ming-sun ruled the prosecution had established sufficient evidence to prosecute the Next Digital boss after three days of trial at West Kowloon Court, that started on Thursday.
Lai, 72, has denied criminal intimidation over the exchange with an Oriental Daily reporter during the annual candlelight vigil at Victoria Park on June 4, 2017, commemorating the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown.
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The reporter, who has been granted anonymity by the court, testified on the first day of the trial that he felt threatened when Lai cursed him, and said he would get someone to “mess with” him, after the former took pictures and video of Lai during the event.
The reporter said he had suffered from adjustment disorder – a condition stemming from stressful events – and depressed mood because of the incident. He said he consulted a psychiatrist thrice and was given antidepressant and sleeping pills.
Lai’s lawyers have challenged the reporter’s credibility, and suggested he and his company used the incident as an opportunity to “make life difficult” for the media tycoon. They also cast doubt on the psychiatrist’s findings, saying he might not have checked whether the reporter’s claims were true.
In a video interview with police, played in court on Monday, Lai told officers he had taken notice of the Oriental Daily reporter who he said had been pursuing him and taking pictures of him for several years before the 2017 encounter.
I am a gentleman. How would I, say, disturb him? I wouldn’t have the idea of really employing triads
Jimmy Lai, Apple Daily founder
Lai admitted he “blurted out” that he would mess with the reporter after he felt offended by the “aggressive” approach.
“This fellow, during that period, provoked me with his camera face-to-face,” Lai told police.
He clarified in the interview that he meant he might apply for a court injunction, consult his lawyers or file a report to police in response to the harassment. But Lai said he had not taken any action since.
“I am a gentleman. How would I, say, disturb him? I wouldn’t have the idea of really employing triads to disturb him or whatever.”
Following Monday’s ruling, defence counsel Peter Duncan SC said his client would not testify in court, nor would he call any defence witnesses.
Counsel for both parties will make oral submissions on August 28, when the magistrate will also decide the date to deliver her ruling.
This article Apple Daily boss Jimmy Lai has case to answer in intimidation trial, Hong Kong court rules first appeared on South China Morning Post