Hong Kong courts

Hong Kong woman, 63, arrested for insulting judge in Frankly Chu case

She allegedly used improper and insulting speech for judicial personnel outside Eastern Court after ex-policeman’s sentencing

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 16 January, 2018, 9:05am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 16 January, 2018, 4:34pm

A Hong Kong woman was arrested for contempt of court on Monday for reportedly hurling abuse at a judge outside court after she handed down a sentence in a high-profile assault case involving a retired senior policeman.

A police spokesman said the woman, 63, who was arrested in North Point, had allegedly used improper and insulting speech for judicial personnel outside the Eastern Court in Sai Wan Ho on January 3.

She was later released on bail and must report back in the middle of next month.

On the day in question, Principal Magistrate Bina Chainrai jailed retired police superintendent Frankly Chu, 58, for three months for hitting a bystander with a baton during Hong Kong’s Occupy protests in 2014.

The court heard during Chu’s trial that he had swung his baton at Osman Cheng Chung-hang, 28, hitting him in the neck as he was passing by a protest area in Mong Kok on November 6, 2014. The officer claimed Cheng had displayed aggressive behaviour towards his colleague, but Cheng testified that he was only turning his head to tell officers he was a bystander.

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Chu was released on bail pending his appeal. The jail term drew fire from more than 100 of his supporters, who chanted “support Chu King-wai”, “injustice” and “society will not be at peace” outside court.

Someone was heard shouting racist remarks on a megaphone: “Dismiss all foreign judges, we want Chinese ones. This is outrageous,” and “Judges in PRC’s courts must be all Chinese.” Other protesters responded to the remarks with cheers. Other supporters also called the judge “a dog”, among other insults.

Chainrai was born in India but educated in Hong Kong before she was called to the bar in 1982 and appointed a permanent magistrate in 1990.

Hong Kong’s top judge warns against ‘unwarranted’ or ‘arbitrary’ criticism of courts

Days later, Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma Tao-li warned against “unwarranted” or “arbitrary” criticism of the courts, without specifying any recent high-profile rulings for which the judiciary had drawn fire.

In a speech he gave at the ceremonial opening of the legal year on January 8, Ma said “any criticisms which are levelled against the judiciary should be on an informed basis” and “any unwarranted criticisms made against the rule of law cannot be of any benefit to the community”.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said on January 10 that she attached high importance to the rule of law.

“The courts would exercise their independent judicial power according to legal principles, without any bias. Any attempts to attack the judicial system, the judiciary, to interfere with its independence, or to insult and threaten our judges are unacceptable.”

She added that such actions would not be tolerated and would be handled by the government according to the law.