Grenville Cross, former top prosecutor of Hong Kong, has once again raised questions about the drawn-out process in completing the investigation into alleged misconduct by ex-chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen.
It reflects poorly on authorities if they take an inordinate amount of time over a probe into a high-profile case such as the one on Tsang, Apple Daily quoted Cross as saying.
As the investigation wasn’t completed in proper time, the public needs an explanation, he said.
His comments came as the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), Hong Kong’s anti-corruption watchdog, took as long as three years on its probe into Tsang.
ICAC began an investigation after it received complaints in February 2012 before Tsang ended his term on June 30 that year.
Tsang was allegedly involved in some questionable acts, including renting a luxury house in Shenzhen at a low price from a mainland tycoon. There were also reports that he accepted extravagant hospitality from businessmen, including overseas holiday trips on private jets and luxury yachts.
Cross, who has been following the case closely, said if investigations on a criminal case cannot be completed in proper timeframe, it will not only undermine the quality of evidence but will also be extremely unfair to the target of the probe.
Taking three years on the case is inexplicable as the accusations do not seem extensive or complicated, he said.
A similar question should be asked regarding the case on former ICAC chief Timothy Tong Hin-ming, who was accused of ignoring the principle of frugality and indulging in improper conduct during his five-year term, Cross said. The probe should have taken one year at the most, rather than the two years that have gone by so far, he said.
While the lengthy investigation into the Tsang case might have been due to lack of experience among ICAC’s senior management, insufficient manpower or resources, or reluctance to bite the bullet due to sensitivity of the case, Cross urged the Department of Justice to track the progress on the case more closely in order to make sure investigations on the case as well as others, can be completed in timely fashion and the rights of the probe subjects can be protected.
Chief public prosecutor Keith Yeung Kar-hung said last month that ICAC has completed a probe into Tsang’s case and a decision will be made “very soon” as to whether charges should be filed against the former Hong Kong leader.
The Department of Justice is reviewing the evidence and will decide soon whether Tsang should face prosecution, he said.
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