Hong Kong media mogul Jimmy Lai, who was arrested earlier this month over alleged collusion with foreign forces, has a case to answer for allegedly intimidating a reporter three years ago, a city court ruled.
On Monday, Magistrate May Chung ruled the prosecution had established sufficient evidence to prosecute the Apple Daily founder after three days of trial at the West Kowloon Court, reports the South China Morning Post newspaper.
Lai, 72, has denied criminal intimidation over the exchange with the Oriental Daily reporter during the annual candlelight vigil at Victoria Park on June 4, 2017, commemorating the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown.
The reporter testified on the first day of the trial on August 20 that he felt threatened when Lai cursed him, and said he would get someone to “mess with” him, after the he took pictures and video of the media mogul during the event.
The reporter said he had suffered from adjustment disorder, a condition stemming from stressful events, and depression because of the incident.
Lai’s lawyers have challenged the reporter’s credibility, and suggested he and his company used the incident as an opportunity to “make life difficult” for the media tycoon.
In a video interview with police, played in court on Monday, Lai told officers he had taken notice of the Oriental Daily reporter who he said had been pursuing him and taking pictures of him for several years before the 2017 encounter.
This latest development comes after Lai, along with his two sons and four senior employees of the tabloid-style newspaper known for its scathing criticisms of Beijing, were arrested on August 10 when more than 200 officers raided the Apple Daily offices, sparking an international backlash, the SCMP reported.
He became the first high-profile figure to be held under the new national security law imposed in the city by China, which is aimed at punishing acts of secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces to endanger national security.
Lai was however, released on bail two days later.