Cardinal Zen, four others face five-day trial

Cardinal Joseph Zen (CNS/Paul Haring)

Hong Kong Cardinal Joseph Zen and four other defendants will face a five-day trial on charges of failing to properly register a now-defunct fund to help anti-government protesters. Source: CNS.

According to an August 9 report by the Hong Kong Free Press news agency, Magistrate Ada Yim announced that the trial will take place September 19-23 after asking prosecutors and the defendants’ lawyers if five days would be sufficient for the court to hear the case. Both sides agreed.

The 90-year-old cardinal was detained on May 11 under China’s national security law. However, he and the four others were charged with failing to properly register the 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund, set up to offer financial assistance to those involved in anti-government protests in 2019. It was disbanded last year after coming under scrutiny by authorities.

Lawyers for both sides will argue whether the 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund fell under Hong Kong’s Societies Ordinance, which regulates registered and exempted associations.

The Hong Kong Free Press reported that prosecutors and defence lawyers also will argue whether the defendants held any positions of authority within the relief fund.

The national security law made participating in or supporting the pro-democracy movement crimes of subversion and collusion with foreign organisations and allowed for those remanded to be extradited to mainland China. Punishment ranges between a minimum of three years and a maximum of life imprisonment.

All five defendants pleaded not guilty. If convicted of the improper registration, each defendant could incur a fine of about $1300.

A long-time critic of the Chinese government, Cardinal Zen drew Beijing’s ire for his continued critique of the Vatican’s controversial 2018 deal with China regarding the appointment of bishops.


Hong Kong: Five-day trial set for Cardinal Zen, four defendants (By Junno Arocho Esteves, CNS

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