Hong Kong Justice Department seeks court testimony from two lawmakers in flag desecration case
Move relating to prosecution of localist for upending Chinese and Hong Kong flags must be approved by Legislative Council, but pan-democrats unlikely to block it
The Justice Department has asked the Legislative Council to allow two pro-establishment lawmakers to testify in court against a localist colleague charged with desecrating the Hong Kong and Chinese flags last year.
Lawmakers are scheduled to discuss on June 14 whether Ann Chiang Lai-wan and Edward Lau Kwok-fan should testify against Cheng Chung-tai, who was accused of “publicly and wilfully” defiling the flags in the Legco chamber in October last year.
The Justice Department’s request is likely to be granted as lawmakers can only vote it down by passing a motion under Legco’s split-voting rule.
Watch: Cheng Chung-tai turns flags upside down
Under that rule, a lawmaker’s motion can only be approved with majority support from both geographical and functional representatives. The latter group is dominated by the pro-establishment camp.
Cheng could not be reached for comment on Thursday.
In a letter to Legco secretary-general Kenneth Chen Wei-on, Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions David Leung Cheuk-yin said the evidence of Chiang and Lau, as well as five secretariat staff members, “will be necessary in the trial” of Cheng.
On May 16, Cheng, 33, pleaded not guilty to one count of desecration of the national flag and another over the Hong Kong flag. Both charges carry a HK$50,000 fine and three years in prison.
On October 19 last year, Cheng upended the small national and Hong Kong flags that lawmakers from the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong had displayed on their desks.
He made the move after the pro-establishment bloc staged a walkout to prevent localists Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching from retaking their oaths after they insulted China. The pair were later disqualified.
In December last year, the Justice Department made a similar request for five Legco secretariat staff members to testify in court against pan-democrat lawmaker “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung, who was alleged to have committed misconduct in receiving HK$250,000 from media tycoon Jimmy Lai Chee-ying in 2012.
The pan-democratic camp tabled a motion to oppose the request, but it was voted down.