Fugitive Hong Kong politician Ted Hui convicted in absentia of contempt of court for skipping bail in criminal cases

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A Hong Kong court has convicted in absentia fugitive politician Ted Hui Chi-fung for skipping bail in criminal cases stemming from his allegedly disruptive conduct in the legislature and involvement in an anti-government protest.

A High Court judge declared Hui guilty on Thursday, six days shy of the former opposition lawmaker’s 40th birthday, after accepting the justice department’s contention that the Australia-based fugitive had abandoned his right to defend himself.

“The respondent not only breached the bail conditions and undertaking given but also provided false documents to the police and the court,” Mr Justice Andrew Chan Hing-wai said in his written judgment.

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“I am satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the respondent’s conduct was calculated to interfere with and/or impede the due administration of justice. [As] a result of his deception and abscondment, there is also a real risk that public confidence in the due administration of justice will be undermined.”

He will pass sentence at a later date. Hui will face either a fine or jail sentence.

Ted Hui left Hong Kong on the pretext of attending climate change meetings in Denmark. Credit: Now TV
Ted Hui left Hong Kong on the pretext of attending climate change meetings in Denmark. Credit: Now TV

More than 30 people have been placed on a wanted list after failing to answer court bail in proceedings tied to the 2019 social unrest, according to Security Bureau statistics, but Hui is the only fugitive to face contempt charges while in another jurisdiction.

Prosecutors have slapped nine charges against the former Democratic Party member, alleging he harassed a man who filmed anti-government protesters during a demonstration outside a police station in the summer of 2019, and interrupted three Legislative Council sittings between May and June of the following year.

Despite the initial confiscation of his passport, two judges gave Hui permission to travel overseas to perform his official duties, which enabled him to leave the city on the pretext of attending climate change meetings in Denmark.

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It later emerged that Hui had reportedly enlisted the help of Danish parliamentary members to draft a bogus itinerary and invitation letter to facilitate his flight. Hui’s parents, wife and children left for London shortly after his departure.

In Thursday’s verdict, Chan found Hui’s conduct was “calculated to prejudice or interfere with the due administration of justice as a continuing process” that went beyond a mere failure to appear in court.

The judge said Hui had “colluded” with Danish politicians such as Anders Storgaard, who had acknowledged on social media the so-called duty visit was nothing other than a smokescreen.

He also sought support for his verdict from Hui’s Facebook posts, where the politician “continued to display his displeasure or dissatisfaction towards the legal system in Hong Kong” and “proclaimed publicly his disdain for the integrity of this court”.

The judge added: “It is clear that he has made a conscious decision not to be present.”

Hong Kong calls on court to punish ex-lawmaker Ted Hui for jumping bail

Hui on Thursday said his case was driven by political motives and “carried out with the use of vile and shameful underhand tactics”.

“Any criminal allegation and sentence against me by the regime deals no damage to my freedom to advocate in the international community, nor do they undermine my determination to fight against this tyrannical government,” he wrote on Facebook.

He called on “free countries” to impose sanctions on the few judges selected by the city leader to oversee proceedings under the national security law, including Chan.

Apart from the nine charges, Hui has also been placed on the wanted lists of national security police and the Independent Commission Against Corruption for allegedly violating the security law and a new offence that prohibits inciting others to boycott an election.

Chan had previously barred Hui from dealing with any property in Hong Kong that belonged to him, his mother or his wife, citing the former lawmaker’s alleged transgressions under the national security law.

Hui had accused authorities of harassing and intimidating dissidents by economic means, saying the ban had little impact on his family as they had transferred all of their assets overseas shortly after their departure.

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