Pompeo's comments on fugitives dismissed

2020-12-21 12:04:24

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. [Photo/Agencies] The Hong Kong government and political pundits have dismissed US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's "naive" and "irresponsible" comments on 12 criminal fugitives, saying that as a senior diplomat, he lacks knowledge and respect for judicial independence and rule of law in other jurisdictions. In a statement on Saturday, a spokesman for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government strongly objected to Pompeo's remarks, saying that his comments had totally disregarded the facts and were confused about what was right and wrong. On Saturday, in a social media comment, Pompeo urged an immediate release of 12 Hong Kong fugitives detained on the mainland. On Wednesday, two of the 12 suspects, surnamed Tang and Quinn, were charged by Yantian People's Procuratorate in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, with a more serious offense-organizing others to illegally cross the border-while another eight were charged with crossing the boundary illegally. The remaining two, who are minors, will undergo closed-door hearings. They were seized by the Guangdong division of China Coast Guard on Aug 23 for trespassing on mainland waters when they tried to flee Hong Kong by speedboat to Taiwan. The 12 absconders are wanted in Hong Kong on various charges, including arson and violation of the National Security Law in the HKSAR in relation to collusion with a foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security. Instead of facing their legal liabilities in Hong Kong, the suspects chose to flee through illegal means, the government spokesman said. After the mainland authorities, as an independent jurisdiction, handled the illegal border crossing case in accordance with the law, the HKSAR government will ask for their return to Hong Kong and deal with their suspected offenses here, the spokesman said. The spokesman reiterated that those who violate the law should be held responsible for their behavior. "This is something any society that upholds the rule of law should do," he added. Lau Lan-cheong, a veteran local commentator, said those who pin their hopes on the intervention of foreign politicians to legitimize their conduct and crime in Hong Kong should wake up and stop wishful thinking or they could end up as "sacrificed pieces" in this political game. Song Sio-chong, a professor at the Research Center of Hong Kong and Macao Basic Law at Shenzhen University, also urged Hong Kong people, especially those facing prosecution, not to be misled by Western politicians' irresponsible statements. Illegal border crossing is a crime on the Chinese mainland as it is in many other jurisdictions, he said. The mainland's law enforcement is nothing but an action to safeguard the sovereignty and national security, he added.