Opposition lawmaker Raymond Chan Chi-chuen has initiated a rare private prosecution against a pro-establishment colleague over an alleged assault in Hong Kong’s legislature earlier this month during a chaotic meeting over control of a key committee.
The People Power chairman filed the legal action against Federation of Trade Union lawmaker Kwok Wai-keung in Eastern Court on Monday, accusing him of common assault in the Legislative Council complex during a House Committee meeting on May 8.
Section 14 of Hong Kong’s Magistrates Ordinance allows private citizens to launch criminal complaints, though the Secretary for Justice can intervene to take over or abort the case.
Democratic Party lawmaker Ted Hui Chi-fung has employed the tactic twice so far this year. In January, he brought an attempted murder charge against a police office who shot a protester during last year’s social unrest, then filed a case in February against a taxi driver who drove his vehicle into a crowd of demonstrators.
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The assault alleged by Chan was said to have taken place after pro-establishment leader Starry Lee Wai-king assumed chairmanship of the committee election, a surprise move that sparked mayhem and ultimately saw 11 opposition lawmakers booted from the chamber, Chan among them.
Lee’s move, endorsed by Legco president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen, was designed to end a months-long deadlock created by opposition filibustering designed to thwart passage of a controversial national anthem law.
Chan said Kwok forcefully pulled his shirt collar from behind during the meeting, causing him to fall to the ground, then dragged him along an aisle for several metres in a violent assault caught on camera.
He filed a police report on May 11 and recorded a statement, but said officers had yet to take any action.
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“The evidence is obvious,” Chan told reporters outside court. “We don’t want to wait any more for action and no results, so we decided to [institute] private prosecution. We hope the court can handle the case as soon as possible.”
Chan also thanked the 3,621 backers who have so far donated more than HK$1.1 million through online crowdfunding in support of the case. These funds had been transferred to his lawyers, he said.
Common assault carries a maximum sentence of one year in prison.
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