Retirement of Macau judge raises concerns

PUBLISHED : Friday, 18 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 18 November, 2011, 12:00am


One of Macau's top judges has been forced to retire after he was hurt in a car accident in Guangdong, sparking concerns over the impact on the quality of the judiciary in the former Portuguese enclave.

Mr Justice Chu Kin's compulsory retirement was announced yesterday by the Macau judicial magistrates council, although the decision was made last Friday.

The council said Mr Justice Chu, 42, one of three judges sitting on Macau's Court of Final Appeal, 'is no longer in service due to compulsory retirement after he has been declared totally and permanently incapacitated to perform public duties by a medical board'.

The judge was on holiday with his family, in Taishan, Guangdong province in late August, when he sustained a brain injury in a car accident, according to Macau media. He has been in hospital since then amid reports that he is in a vegetative state.

Mr Justice Chu was the first Chinese to be appointed a judge by Macau's then Portuguese government in the 1990s. He joined the Court of Final Appeal in 1999 when Macau was handed over to China.

He was in charge of the pre-trial procedure in the corruption case of former secretary for transport and public works, Ao Man-long. He also chaired the chief executive electoral affairs commission in the 2004 and 2009 elections.

An independent committee will search for his replacement.

It is widely tipped that Mr Justice Lai Kin-hong, president of Macau's court of second instance, will be appointed to serve the top court.

Macau legislator Au Kam-san, of the pro-democracy group New Macau Association, expressed fears that the quality of the judiciary would be affected. 'Basically, Macau lacks experienced judges. It is partly because the Portuguese colonial government was not keen on localising the judiciary before the handover.'