Activist Avery Ng Man-yuen slammed the Department of Justice for what he called his "political prosecution" after he was acquitted of charges relating to his bid to catch the attention of visiting President Hu Jintao last June.
Ng, vice-chairman of the League of Social Democrats, was charged with causing a public nuisance after he threw his T-shirt, which had a photo of the deceased blind activist Li Wangyang and the words “We miss you” on it, off a Tung Chung bridge on June 29, during former Chinese president’s trip to Hong Kong to mark the 15th anniversary of the handover.
Magistrate Raymond Wong Kwok-fai in Tsuen Wan Magistrates' Court on Tuesday dismissed the charge against Ng, saying the Department of Justice had "failed to prove that Ng had caused a public nuisance to society as a whole, or to a significant class or representative social group".
The public was only affected because police officers had closed part of the eastbound lanes on North Lantau Highway to let the convoy pass, the court heard.
Wong said that while civil servants and officials from the local or central governments, including Hu, could be classified as members of the public, unlike police officers, police witnesses during the trial stated that Ng’s actions did not obstruct the convoy’s journey.
Speaking outside the court, Ng said the ruling highlighted the unfairness of his arrest.
“This was a typical [example of] political prosecution,” Ng emphasised. “I am not particularly happy … because while we did not cause a public nuisance, the Department of Justice has caused a nuisance to the League of Social Democrats and protestors, who were exercising their right of free speech as stipulated by the Basic Law.”
On April 5, Wong informed the counsels that he might invoke his powers to change Ng’s charge to the offence of committing a nuisance, which may cause injury or obstruction to traffic. Yet, despite support from the Department of Justice for this action, Wong ruled against his own suggestion on Tuesday as he feared “the amendment would be unjust” for Ng.
Wong also ruled that although being acquitted, Ng should share legal costs with the prosecution because his action “brought suspicion upon himself”. Ng estimated that his costs amounted to at least HK$40,000.
Hours after the magistrate’s ruling, the Department of Justice vowed to lodge an appeal, saying the magistrate “has misdirected himself on legal principles and committed errors of law” in his judgment, a spokeswoman for the department of justice said.