The private prosecution of a newspaper photographer for assault over an incident in which he was previously treated as the victim was given the go-ahead by a magistrate yesterday. Abu Bakar bin Wahab refused to throw out the case and rejected claims the prosecution was motivated by bad faith or a desire to boost civil actions for damages. Frankie Chan Muk-nam, 35, a photographer with Ming Pao Weekly, will go on trial later this year. He is accused of assaulting Oriental Press Group employees Ma Kwei, 49, and Li Po-ming, 39, outside the High Court in June last year. Mr Ma, who brought the private prosecution along with Mr Li, was acquitted last October of assaulting Chan in the same incident. Chan was a prosecution witness in Mr Ma's trial. The magistrate refused to order a permanent stay of the private prosecution, rejecting arguments that it amounted to an abuse of the court process. He said the only argument raised by the defence which warranted serious consideration was whether a former prosecution witness should later be put in the dock accused of charges arising from the same incident. Mr Wahab, sitting at Western Court, did not accept claims by prosecutor Cheng Huan SC that to halt the prosecution would encourage people found guilty in assault cases to dash to the police, hoping that by making the first complaint they would avoid being charged themselves. He said he found it difficult to imagine 'hordes of offenders' rushing to the police to report their own crimes in a bid to be treated as the victim rather than the defendant. But previous cases in which prosecutions had been stopped because of an abuse of the court process were different from this one, the magistrate said. 'It is a grave matter for a court to refuse to hear a prosecution,' said Mr Wahab. Lawrence Lok SC, defending, had argued that the prosecution might have been motivated by 'revenge and spite' and was being used to boost six other legal actions arising from the alleged assault, five of which target Chan. Chan denies assaulting Mr Ma and Mr Li causing them actual bodily harm. He has also pleaded not guilty to common assault of Mr Ma.