British lawyer David Perry pulled out as a lead prosecutor in an upcoming case against prominent pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong amid “growing pressure and criticism” from the United Kingdom.
British lawyer David Perry pulled out as a lead prosecutor in an upcoming case against prominent pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong amid “pressures and criticism” from the United Kingdom.
Perry’s decision came a week after the Department of Justice in Hong Kong had instructed him to lead a team to prosecute a group of activists involved in “organizing and knowingly taking part in an unauthorized assembly,” referring to the pro-democracy protests that took place in 2019.
According to the department, Perry has faced “growing pressure and criticism from the UK community” for being involved in the case against well-known activists, including veteran pro-democracy figures Martin Lee and Margaret Ng, as well as media tycoon Jimmy Lai whose tabloid has been known to be critical of the Hong Kong government.
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab described Perry’s acceptance of the appointment as “mercenary” in an interview with Sky TV last Jan. 17.
British Shadow Attorney General Charlie Falconer also said that Perry’s acceptance of the appointment was “the wrong choice.”
In a statement, the department described the criticism towards Perry as “ill-informed” and said that Perry “expressed concerns about such pressures and the exemption of quarantine, and indicated that the trial should proceed without him.”
Hong Kong’s Secretary of Justice Teresa Cheng called the criticism “appalling” and “were made oblivious of what the case is about,” defending the security law that has gained international criticism.
“One must not underestimate the effect such pressure and criticisms, baseless though they may be, could have on individuals, and more importantly, the rule of law,” Cheng said in a statement.
The department said it has hired another lawyer to proceed with the trial as scheduled.
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