Thomas Kwok’s lawyer will likely plead ill-health to try and keep him out of jail. Why? It worked for his lawyer, Clare Montgomery, when she defended notorious dictator Augusto Pinochet 16 years ago.
In 1998, the Chilean Embassy in London received an emergency call: British authorities were in a tense stand-off against the bodyguards of a former Latin American dictator: Augusto Pinochet.
He had sought medical treatment in London. The Spanish authorities, who wanted to prosecute him for crimes against humanity, saw their chance. They issued an extradition order to Britain who moved to serve it at the clinic where he was being treated.
Thomas Kwok and Agusto Pinochet’s connection?
The same lawyer, Clare Montgomery.
The upshot was a long trial which finally saw his lawyer, Clare Montgomery, try to keep him out of Spanish hands by claiming ill-health on the part of her notorious client. Ms Montgomery was unsuccessful in the lenghty trial and the extradition order was ruled valid by the House of Lords. However, she had more luck with the British Home Secretary, Jack Straw. He ruled against various experts and allowed Pinochet to return to a heroes’ welcome in Chile, where he staged a miraculous recovery, leaping from his wheelchair at the airport. Outside, thousands of protesters denounced his return.
New client: Kwok
Ms. Montgomery, now the lawyer for Thomas Kwok in Hong Kong, could play the ill health card again. She has claimed that he would not stand up to the rigours of life ‘on the inside’. She has cited the impact on his mother, family and also played the good character angle heavily, producing a plethora of testimonials.
However, hired by the Pinochet family and Pinochet Foundation, it was her plea to Jack Straw on account of Pinochet’s ill health that kept him out of Spain and saw him return to his native country to live out his dying days in freedom, regardless of almost a decade of political and judicial attempts to see him jailed and prosecuted in Chile.
Look for similar tactics here in the days to come as the next round of attempted appeals to the verdict and appeals for clemency ramp up.