'HK Man's Jailing Highlights Extradition Fears'

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2019-03-14 HKT 18:21

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  • Lawmaker James To (centre) says the businessman shouldn't have been on trial over the border as the contract was signed in Hong Kong. Photo: RTHK

    Lawmaker James To (centre) says the businessman shouldn't have been on trial over the border as the contract was signed in Hong Kong. Photo: RTHK

Democratic Party legislator James To said on Thursday that he is seeking to help a Hong Kong man jailed on the mainland over a financial dispute, warning that the case shows people are right to be worried about plans to make it easier to extradite people from the territory.

The 58-year-old man, whose surname is Kwok, was jailed for life on the mainland in 2009, before his punishment was later cut to 18 years behind bars because of good behaviour.

But To said he has been studying the case for two months and the offence in question took place in Hong Kong and should never have been a matter for the mainland.

Kwok is said to have signed a mortgage agreement with a mainland bank in Hong Kong in 1996, pledging 25 percent of the equity of his business over the border as collateral.

He didn't pay back the mortgage and was arrested in 2007 in Shenzhen, accused of taking out millions of yuan from the mainland company which prosecutors said should have gone to the bank.

But To said Kwok should never have been put on trial over the border as the contract was signed in Hong Kong.

He said it is a very good illustration of how the "One country, Two systems" principle can be violated when the mainland assumes jurisdiction over a Hong Kong affair – and a civil, rather than criminal, one at that.

To said he is going to write to Chief Executive Carrie Lam about the man's case, as well as Beijing's liaison office and a mainland legal committee chaired by President Xi Jinping. To said he hopes the conviction and prison term can be overturned.

The lawmaker said the case will no doubt worry people who are concerned that Hong Kong will soon start surrendering wanted people to the mainland under planned changes to legislation relating to extraditions.