Man who slapped activist outside court sentenced to community service

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 August, 2014, 1:22pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 14 August, 2014, 5:08am

A man who slapped a pro-independence activist outside court in June was sentenced to 120 hours of community service yesterday, after withdrawing a claim that he was unfit for physical work.

Chan Ngok-yuen, 59, smiled and waved as he left court holding a bouquet of flowers, apparently given to him by his supporters, some of whom had flown in from the mainland.

Chan last month pleaded guilty to one count of common assault in Eastern Court, close to where he slapped activist Billy Chiu Hin-chung on June 19.

The attack took place when Chiu, the founder of pro-independence group Hongkongese Priority, chanted slogans and waved banners with his supporters before entering the building for a hearing. Chiu was sentenced on that day for trespassing in the People's Liberation Army barracks in Central last year.

The activist was slapped twice on his left cheek, causing him to lose balance and fall to the ground. He was sent to hospital for a medical check-up after being sentenced to two weeks in jail, suspended for 12 months.

Reading from a court report yesterday, Principal Magistrate Bina Chainrai said Chan had originally told a probation officer that he was unfit for community service due to "advanced age" and the burden of medical appointments.

But defence lawyer Patrick Tam Kin-yip said: "My instruction is that he is willing to do it now."

Tam told the hearing last month that his client carried out the attack "out of momentary impulse" when he was walking past the court and heard Chiu call for independence for Hong Kong.

Chainrai found that Chan's offence was not politically motivated but was serious, as "it went beyond freedom of speech".

As well as the community service, she ordered Chan to pay HK$500 in court expenses.

Chan was accompanied to court by a dozen supporters who said they were part of a patriotic group that had formed over the internet. One member said he had flown in from Shanghai to support Chan, though he did not reveal his identity.