Hong Kong Law & Crime

‘Teary-eyed’ Donald Tsang sent to custody as court says non-jail options unlikely

Former chief executive Donald Tsang was sent to custody on Monday while the High Court decides his sentence, which is set to be handed down on Wednesday.

The ex-leader “appeared agitated and was brought to tears” upon learning that he would be held in custody, local broadcaster TVB reported. Tsang was on bail during the trial. He also told his two sons to look after their mother after learning he would be remanded.

donald tsang sentencing

Donald Tsang outside the court. Photo: AFP/Anthony Wallace.

A nine-person jury found Tsang, 72, guilty of misconduct last Friday for failing to disclose his plans to lease a luxury flat from a major investor in a broadcaster, which was later granted a licence from the government under his leadership.

But he was acquitted on another misconduct charge over an allegation that he failed to declare that an architect he proposed for a government award was employed as an interior designer on the apartment.

The jury could not reach a majority decision on a third charge of bribery against Tsang, which alleged that he took the redecoration and refurbishment of the flat as a kickback.

They asked to be disbanded last Friday, and the judge agreed.

On Monday, the judge originally accepted the prosecution’s request for a re-trial for the bribery charge, but when he asked if it could take place next Monday, counsel for both parties said they would not be available. The court has not made a decision on the matter.

Tsang now faces a maximum of seven years in jail. His lawyer pleaded in mitigation that Tsang served the city for many years and accomplished many things during his tenure, such as leading Hong Kong out of the SARS epidemic in 2003.

He also presented several mitigation letters, including those written by former chief secretaries Anson Chan, Carrie Lam and Henry Tang, ex-finance chief John Tsang, and Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Raymond Tam.

The lawyer asked the High Court to consider giving a suspended sentence, but the judge said it was unlikely.

The sentence hearing is scheduled for Wednesday morning.

Correction: An earlier version of this article erroneously stated that the judge ordered a re-trial. In fact, the court has not made a decision on the matter.

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'Teary-eyed' Donald Tsang sent to custody as court says non-jail options unlikely