HONG KONG • Two men who attacked a former chief editor of a widely respected Hong Kong newspaper with a meat cleaver have been sentenced to 19 years in jail in a case that has raised concern about press freedom in the city.
Yip Kim Wah and Wong Chi Wah, both 39 years old, showed no emotion yesterday as the sentences were handed down for causing "grievous bodily harm with intent" in the stabbing of former Ming Pao chief editor Kevin Lau on Feb 26 last year in broad daylight.
Justice Esther Toh said the assault was carried out "in cold blood... for financial gain", and that it was a "brazen attack on the rule of law in Hong Kong".
Mr Lau last week urged the police to continue the investigation so that the "mastermind" behind the attack could be brought to justice. The two men told the police that they had been paid HK$100,000 (S$18,100) each to attack Mr Lau but refused to say who paid them.
The attack on Mr Lau was cited as the most violent example of how press freedom in Hong Kong has deteriorated, according to a recent report by the Hong Kong Journalists Association.
The stabbing came in the months before last year's mass pro-democracy protests, and was widely seen as a warning to Hong Kong's vibrant media that has remained a bastion of critical reporting on China.
The two men were also sentenced to a concurrent 12-month jail term for the theft of a motorcycle used in the attack.