Cardinal Zen’s arrest in Hong Kong, Holy See’s concern

Released around 11 pm local time on Wednesday, May 11, the 90-year-old cardinal has been accused of “collusion with foreign forces” in connection with his role as administrator of the 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund. He was detained the night before by the police section set up to oversee national security.

Salvatore Cernuzio – Vatican News

Cardinal Joseph Zen, 90, who from 2002 to 2009 was a Catholic bishop of the Diocese of Hong Kong, was arrested this Tuesday, May 10, by the Hong Kong authorities. The cardinal was released on bail this Wednesday at around 11pm local time (1200 GMT), as reported by Hong Kong journalists who also posted photos of Zen outside the Wan Chai police station on social media. On his way out, the cardinal immediately got into a private car parked nearby, without comment. Five people accompanied him.

arrest and prosecution

The cardinal had been detained on Tuesday night by the police section set up to oversee Chinese national security; according to local sources, he would now be at a police station for questioning. The charge against the cardinal is “collusion with foreign forces”, in relation to his role as administrator of the 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund, a fund that supported pro-democracy protesters in paying the legal and medical expenses they faced. . “The Holy See has learned with concern about the news of the arrest of Cardinal Zen and is following the evolution of the situation with extreme attention”, said on the afternoon of Wednesday, May 11, the director of the Vatican Press Office, Matteo Bruni, in response to questions from journalists.

Another three arrests

The Salesian cardinal was one of the administrators of the organization, founded in 2019 and dissolved in October last year. In addition to him, the authorities also arrested other prosecutors for the Fund, including the well-known lawyer Margaret Ng, a former opposition deputy; academic Hui Po-keung and singer-songwriter Denise Ho. Their detention was confirmed by legal sources in Hong Kong. They too, according to local sources, were released on bail.

The investigation

Local media reported the arrest, saying that the Law Enforcement investigation focuses on Fund 612’s alleged “collusion” with foreign forces, in violation of the national security law imposed by Beijing in June 2020. face is one of four offenses under the city’s National Security Act – and internationally condemned – to quell pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. The other offenses are subversion, secession and terrorism and can carry life sentences.

In recent months, some Hong Kong media have accused the bishop emeritus of inciting students to revolt in 2019 against a series of government measures. In the past, Zen has exposed himself in the first person for having criticized the Chinese Communist Party, denouncing pressure and persecution of religious communities.

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