Cardinal Joseph Zen has filed an appeal with the Hong Kong High Court after being convicted last month of failing to register a fund that helped pay for legal costs and medical treatment for pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.
The Hong Kong Free Press reported on Dec. 14, 2022 that the 90-year-old Cardinal and former Bishop of Hong Kong appealed the verdict this week, as did the four other trustees of the 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund, who were convicted and fined approximately $500 (HK$4,000) each.
As CAN’s Courtney Mares reports, the Cardinal's trial, which ran from September to November, focused on whether it was necessary for the trustees of the 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund to seek the registration of a local company between 2019 and 2021.
Judge Ada Yim ruled on November 25 that the fund was a “local company” and was subject to its rules. In her judgment, she said the fund “had political objectives and was therefore not established solely for charitable purposes.”
Following the judgment, Margaret Ng, a lawyer and fund manager convicted with Zen, noted that it was the first time anyone had been convicted under the Hong Kong Companies Ordinance for failing to register a company, and said the case was important for “freedom of association in Hong Kong.”
Besides Zen and Ng, singer and activist Denise Ho, cultural studies scholar Hui Po-Keung and former lawmaker Cyd Ho also appealed their conviction.
Sze Ching-wee, former secretary of the 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund, did not appeal. Sze was arrested in early November under Hong Kong's national security law. He was released on bail and is due to report to police in February.
A few days before this appeal, a Hong Kong court sentenced Jimmy Lai, a Catholic businessman and former editor of Apple Daily, to an additional five years and nine months in prison for violating the lease of one of the offices of his newspaper, according to AFP.
Lai, who has been imprisoned since December 2020 for his participation in pro-democracy protests, also faces a life sentence for undermining national security. The trial, which was to begin on December 13, has been postponed to the year 2023.