The decision by the Court of Final Appeal (TUI) concerning the case of former Public Prosecutor General Ho Chiu Meng is final, the Office of the President of TUI informed yesterday in a statement.
The TUI sentenced Ho to 21 years in prison on July 14 this year, along with heavy financial penalties and an order that many of his assets revert to the administration.
While the decision was intended to be final, the defendant filed an appeal on August 4 with two possible suggestions to deal with the finality of the decision – namely, the possibility of the creation of an appeal court and the creation of an “ad hoc” court to hear his case, with analogous application of the relevant provisions in order to create a standardization of the case law.
In response to the appeal, the presiding judge issued an order on August 15 indicating that “the admission of an appeal entails the existence of a judicial body with a power of judging in a higher court, which may examine and decide on the appeal.”
In this particular case, the presiding judge stated, “we realize that we do not have a higher court that can assess the appeal filed by the defendant, since the Court of Final Appeal is the supreme judicial body of the MSAR, which is a region with independent judicial power and with power of final judgment,” the judge wrote on her order.
Regarding the two solutions proposed by the defendant, the judge said, “in the judicial system currently in force in Macau, the creation of any court is based on the assumption that there is a legal provision. In the absence of legal rules, the creation of a court of appeal to assess the decision of the TUI at first instance has no legal basis.”
The judge further noted that the application implies “the existence of a legal loophole,” that according to the judge does not exist since “when it was determined that in some particular cases [regarding high ranked officials] the court that had the right to rule should be the TUI, it was already clear that this would leave no room for appeals. Furthermore, the Legislative Assembly did not make any provision for the inclusion of an appeal against rulings by the TUI, with the judge claiming that this decision was not due to a loophole but was made according to deliberate legislative intention.
The judge also added that these intentions were even clearer after the 2007 trial of the former Secretary for Transport and Public Works Ao Man Long, which concerned corruption. In this case, the defendant was also not entitled to appeal – and two years after, when the Legislative Assembly approved the Law 9/2009 to introduce changes to the Basic Law of the Judicial Organization, he had the opportunity to address the issue of the appeal, and did not.
“Therefore, it cannot be understood that there is a legal loophole to be filled by the analogue application. In this way, it was decided not to admit the appeal by the accused,” she concluded in her comments.
With the appeal’s refusal, the decision to sentence Ho to 21 years of imprisonment is final.
Ho’s defense lawyer, Oriana Pun, has previously said that the inability to appeal constituted just a “technical problem that can be circumvented.”
According to Pun, this “technical problem” is minor when compared with the right to appeal, which she said to “constitutes a fundamental right”. However, Pun’s arguments have now been rejected.