Hong Kong courts

Ex-lawmaker Wong Yuk-man’s assault conviction for hurling glass at former Hong Kong leader CY Leung is overturned

Supporters of veteran politician Wong throw fists in the air, cheer and curse former chief executive upon hearing the acquittal at the High Court

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 September, 2018, 6:21pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 September, 2018, 10:26pm

A former lawmaker jailed for hurling a glass at then Hong Kong leader Leung Chun-ying had the assault conviction quashed on Thursday and was awarded compensation for the cost of his appeal.

Mrs Justice Judianna Barnes Wai-ling concluded there was insufficient evidence to prove Wong Yuk-man, 66, had assaulted Leung.

Barnes said she found the former chief executive’s concerns about possible injury “unreasonable and inherently improbable”, since it had taken him more than two minutes to react to the glass.

The high-profile case was the first conviction of a Hong Kong lawmaker for a protest inside the chamber at the city’s legislature.

Supporters of veteran politician Wong threw fists in the air, cheered and cursed Leung upon hearing the acquittal.

“I had to appeal because I cannot allow a precedent to be set,” Wong said outside court. “I insisted on fighting him until the end. Eventually, I won.”

Throwing glass towards ex-Hong Kong leader Leung Chun-ying could not have been assault, Wong Yuk-man says at appeal

But Leung maintained on Facebook that he would still call police if faced with similar attacks in future. “I hope the High Court’s ruling will not encourage others to imitate Wong,” he wrote.

The incident took place at a question-and-answer session at the Legislative Council in July 2014, during which Wong hurled a number of objects, including a glass that shattered behind the chief executive.

Leung testified that he had frozen out of shock at the noise of shattering glass, and worried there might be a second attack.

Wong was subsequently jailed for two weeks for common assault but was immediately released on bail, pending the appeal. Magistrate Chu Chung-keung said he did not have the “slightest hesitation” in finding Wong guilty of “uncivilised behaviour” that had put the chief executive in potential danger.

Lawmaker Wong Yuk-man arrested for throwing glass at Chief Executive CY Leung

Wong argued he had not been given a fair trial. The magistrate had neglected the fact Wong conducted his defence without a legal representative, had adopted inappropriate legal principles and favoured the prosecution, Wong said.

It was not disputed that the glass landed less than two metres behind Leung, and Barnes agreed with the lower court’s finding that Wong had intentionally hurled the object.

At issue was whether Leung had been truly worried and shocked by the shattering glass.

On Thursday, Barnes concluded that Leung’s testimony was not backed by indisputable closed-circuit television footage, which showed he did not react until two minutes and 25 seconds after the glass touched the ground.

“If what [Leung] said is true, why didn’t [he] immediately turn to check what had caused the clattering noise?” Barnes wrote in her judgment. “Truth is, the footage showed [Leung] did not freeze as he claimed. He looked calm.”

Barnes also noted that the trial magistrate had failed to adequately consider Wong’s history of protest and disruptive conduct in Legco when dealing with the question of intent to assault.

She concluded that prosecutors had failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Wong had the intent to assault Leung, or that he had attempted to stage an attack.