Three men jailed for tailing Hong Kong lawmaker Eddie Chu on Legco polling day

Fourth man, a teenager, was given community service; judge says election candidates should be able to carry out their campaigns free from interference

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 July, 2017, 10:51pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 July, 2017, 10:32am

Three men who tailed Hong Kong pro-democracy lawmaker Eddie Chu Hoi-dick in a bid to find ­irregularities in his campaign and to stop him from winning in last year’s Legislative Council election were each jailed for two months.

A fourth man, a teenager, ­received community service.

The District Court heard a person surnamed Kong had enlisted Wong Kin-fai, 36, to follow Chu on the September 4 polling daybecause of their differences in political philosophy. Chu later went on to win the highest number of votes in the election.

The men’s lawyer sought to downplay the offence by arguing that neither the act of tailing nor the motivation behind it were “outrageous”.

“Their purpose was not to target Chu’s life but the election,” Kwong Ki-tack said in mitigation. “This is not a personal crime.”

Four found guilty of tailing Hong Kong lawmaker Eddie Chu in Legco elections

He also asked the court not to put too much consideration into his clients’ intentions.

But deputy district judge Merinda Chow Yin-chu disagreed, noting that there was planning and premeditation to prevent Chu from being elected when they tailed him at the start of polling day, with four men in two cars.

She said a deterrent sentence was necessary, as the victim was a candidate and the offence had been committed on polling day.

“Election candidates should carry out their campaigns in circumstances free from interference,” she continued.

She jailed Wong, along with decoration worker Lam Ka-chun, 43, and Ho Yee-kai, 41, who is unemployed, for two months on their joint count of loitering causing concern, an offence punishable by two years’ imprisonment.

But the youngest defendant, Wong Chun-yam, 18, was spared jail, and was instead sentenced to 160 hours of community service on the same charge after the judge found he was blindly following instructions from his brother, the older Wong, and that he was not driving the car.

Hong Kong lawmaker had safety fears on seeing cars tail him and his campaign team throughout election day, court hears

The court heard that all three other men had prior convictions ranging from possession of firearms and ammunitions without a licence to manslaughter.

Chu, 39, told the Post their sentences did not mean an end to his troubles because the true masterminds had not yet been caught. “I don’t think legal sanctions on the four men would bring an end to the incident or prevent future ones from happening,” he said.

Chu emerged as the “king of votes” in last year’s elections after bagging 84,121 votes in New Territories West, the highest number obtained by any candidate in all five geographical constituencies.

Since his announcement of his election bid, he had received threats against him and his family, which escalated into a death threat after his landslide victory.

Chu had testified that he worried for the safety of his campaign team and himself after discovering two cars were following him from his doorstep shortly after 7am on polling day. It prompted him to call police and change his tour plans that day.