Apple Daily and the now defunct Sharp Daily, along with their former editors, have been fined a combined HK$550,000 for contempt of court.
The case involved the two newspapers’ publication of an interview with Henry Chow Hoi-leung, who was then in prison and awaiting trial for the murder of his parents last year, Apple Daily reported on Thursday.
Chow was later convicted and jailed for life.
Justice Thomas Au Hing-cheung said he acknowledged that the two newspapers, along with their chief editors at the time, Cheung Kim-hung of Apple Daily and Lee Pang-kee of Sharp Daily, had publicly apologized and admitted responsibility for their actions.
While the published reports did not influence or affected Chow’s trial, the judge stressed that it was a serious case and it must be reflected in the sentence.
Cheung said he respected the court’s ruling and admitted that he did not perform his duty properly as a gatekeeper of the publication.
Apple Daily publisher Ip Yut-kin, who was present at the court with current chief editor Chan Pui-man, said he hoped that the reporters responsible for the story would not be prosecuted, adding that there were no previous cases in which the reporters were sued.
Apple Daily reporters Luk Yu-ping and Law Yat-sing were assigned to conduct an interview with Chow in March 2013 at the Siu Lam Psychiatric Centre.
Senior counsel Jat Sew-tong, who represented the Department of Justice in the case, said public interest would be considered in deciding whether or not to press charges against Luk and Law.
Jat added that while freedom of press is always respected, it was a most serious contempt of court to publish reports of the suspect’s confession before trial.
Chow, who killed his parents after they stopped funding his lavish lifestyle, admitted in the interview in 2013 with Luk and Law that he had committed the murders.
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