Death by Suicide
The jury has given its finding at Vicky Flores’ inquest here in Hong Kong. After accepting directions from the Coroner to weigh the overall evidence and consider the reliability of the witness whose evidence I called into question in my last post, in a 4-1 majority decision they found that Vicky committed suicide. This is obviously a blow to her family, who now cannot draw from an insurance payout to cover the costs of Vicky’s funeral. It also leaves the suspicion that the jury failed to understand a wide range of Filipino cultural references, which were not explained in court.
The Coroner did direct the jury to ignore any evidence they found insubstantial, but the standard rules of hearsay clearly do not apply to jury findings in an inquest. Still, and this is a very important point to remember, the group I’ve worked with since April to push the process this far succeeded in having natural, otherwise known as procedural, justice delivered.
Now we’re at the end of the line, which has always been the major goal. Despite the jury’s finding, evidence has been very hard to come by in this case and no revelations were expected at the inquest. We expected either an open finding, meaning that the evidence could not support a substantial decision, or a finding of suicide.
There is also no prospect of moving further with the case because the finding of a jury cannot be subjected to a judicial review, even if we had the significant amount of capital needed to make a case before the High Court. Given that the Coroner directed the jury with impartiality, asked them to consider the evidence on its merit and otherwise handled the proceedings with equanimity, there would be no other grounds for review.
When you’ve given your all for a cause that has consumed months of your life and achieved a practical result but not the one you have hoped for based on clear logic, a day like this is hollow, with hypotheticals echoing in the spaces around the desultory facts. I’ve been making phone calls, writing emails, sending text messages in a sort of stunned continuum. The Justice for Vicky Flores concern group will meet tomorrow to reflect on what we’ve done, what we’ve learned and what we’ll need to learn in future.
It’s still a puzzling world.