Korean guilty of grabbing at gun of Hong Kong airport policeman

Judge rejects claim that lawyer was offering a 'traditional gesture of apology' to officer who blocked him from diplomats' immigration queue

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 29 January, 2014, 6:03pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 January, 2014, 6:03pm

A judge has dismissed a lawyer’s claim that he was merely trying to offer a traditional Korean apology when he grabbed at an airport policeman’s machine gun.

Finding Jang Young-su guilty of attempting to possess a firearm, Deputy Judge Timothy Casewell told the District Court on Wednesday: “I find the defendant’s explanation is a fabrication.”

At an earlier hearing, Jang, a 42-year-old lawyer, told the court he had tried to pat the policeman on the forearm after he blocked Jang from using the channel reserved for holders of diplomatic passports. Jang said the police officer misinterpreted his gesture, overreacted and pushed him away.

But Casewell said eyewitness evidence and CCTV footage showed that Jang had clutched the barrel of the machine gun. Although this went on for only four or five seconds, an officer who was at the scene had testified that Jang’s manner had led him to believe he would assault others, the judge said.

The judge said it was understandable that the officers had moved to take control of the situation, as the gun Jang had grabbed at was attached to a magazine containing 20 rounds of ammunition. Jang’s behaviour could have caused a “nasty scene”, Casewell added.

The judge adjourned sentencing until February 12 for a background report.

The court had earlier heard that Jang arrivedin Hong Kong with his wife and daughter at about 11am on August 29 last year,

As the immigration hall was crowded and all queues were long, Jang tried to use the special immigration channel.

A member of the airport staff asked Jang, who was said to smell of alcohol at the time, to use another counter. Jang threw his passport to the floor and asked the staff member to pick it up. His loud voice caught the attention of airport police. After attempting to snatch the gun, three officers subdued him

Jang claimed it was the Korean tradition to pat the forearm when apoligising to a person of a senior rank. He claimed to have touched the barrel by accident.

Jang’s counsel, Roger Wu, said Jang was a practicing lawyer specialising in labour law. He was the sole proprietor of a small practice in a province in South Korea, which had closed after the incident in Hong Kong.

He was visiting Hong Kong for a family holiday and also planned to meet a family friend in Shenzhen, before the trip ended on a sour note.