Magistrate presses for charge in insult case
A magistrate hearing a case in which two defendants are accused of speaking insultingly at him yesterday rejected an application by prosecutors to drop the charge.
He said he was 'shocked and extremely unhappy' at their request.
Nguyen Thai-son and Dinh Nhu-thanh were appearing in Tuen Mun Court on a joint charge of using insulting language against Acting Principal Magistrate Pang Chung-ping when appearing during a hearing in relation to a District Court theft case in which they are charged.
Court prosecutor So Kin-ho said the prosecution had decided it was not necessary to handle the insult case by way of criminal charge.
The magistrate said that if the Department of Justice did not do something, 'how would the court keep its dignity and maintain order?' He said a government lawyer should explain yesterday's application.
He added that a magistrate could under the Magistrates Ordinance summarily imprison without trial someone using insulting language; however, that practice was now criticised as dictatorial.
The magistrate adjourned the case to October 10.
The pair were granted bail with no conditions, but were remanded pending their District Court case.
A Justice Department spokesman said magistrates had jurisdiction to punish such contempt offences, with Section 99 of the ordinance allowing them to impose a penalty.
'The law was explained to the magistrate,' he said. 'There is clear authority that a magistrate can proceed on his own motion to deal with such a contempt and in the circumstances as occurred in this case, the court would normally deal with it.'