National security law: Hong Kong High Court grants ex-lawmaker’s urgent application to leave jail for father’s funeral

·3-min read

The High Court has granted an urgent bail application from the detained former leader of Hong Kong’s biggest opposition party, after prison authorities defended their decision to bar him from attending his father’s funeral.

Wu Chi-wai, an ex-lawmaker of the Democratic Party, on Friday appeared before Madam Justice Esther Toh Lye-ping to apply for temporary release from custody ahead of three separate criminal trials, one of which is related to the Beijing-imposed national security law.

The application was heard in open court but details of the proceedings are subject to bail reporting restrictions, which prohibit publication of the negotiations.

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Wu, 58, had earlier requested permission for a leave of absence to pay tribute in person to his 92-year-old father, who died last month.

The memorial service was scheduled for Friday evening, while the funeral will be held on Saturday morning.

Hong Kong’s High Court on Friday granted Wu Chi-wai’s urgent bail application. Photo: Warton Li
Hong Kong’s High Court on Friday granted Wu Chi-wai’s urgent bail application. Photo: Warton Li

But Wu’s application was rejected by the Correctional Services Department, which on Wednesday issued a statement defending its decision.

A spokesman said the department handled all such applications in accordance with the Prison Rules, and had found online calls for the public to attend the funeral after the event details were reported on social media.

“After a risk assessment, the [department] has decided to reject the application to protect the safety of correctional officers, the subject person in custody and members of the public,” the spokesman said.

Instead, the department offered to live-stream the funeral for the first time for Wu, triggering a furious response from the family.

Ex-lawmaker in jail awaiting trial told he can watch father’s funeral online

His party said the department had proposed sending officers to film the proceedings and relay the live footage to Wu, his father’s only son.

“Chi-wai and his family members have rejected the arrangement, as they find it intolerable [for the authorities] to show such disrespect to his late father,” the party said in a statement.

Wu entered politics in the early 1990s and was chairman of the Democratic Party between 2016 and 2020.

He was charged last December with inciting others to take part in an unauthorised assembly on July 1, 2019, when Hong Kong was embroiled in anti-government protests sparked by the now-withdrawn extradition bill.

Wu is also among 47 opposition figures charged with conspiring to subvert state power under the national security law for his role in an unofficial primary election last year.

He is further accused of contempt and interference with Legco officers under the Legislative Council (Powers and Privileges) Ordinance over a chaotic legislative meeting in May of last year.

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