An unemployed Hong Kong man has been cleared of indecently assaulting opposition lawmaker Tanya Chan by kissing her following an anti-government protest last year after the court found there were contradictions in the politician’s testimony and that of her assistant, who witnessed the incident.
Magistrate Stephanie Tsui May-har on Monday observed that Fan Ka-ho’s behaviour was suspicious but gave the 40-year-old the benefit of the doubt upon finding that she could not accept the evidence of the two key prosecution witnesses with ease, citing irreconcilable differences on multiple crucial points.
The Eastern Court case centred on an encounter between Fan and the Civic Party lawmaker on the night of August 23 last year, when demonstrators formed human chains with their mobile phone flashlights held aloft in a citywide display of unity amid the social arrest.
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Fan was accused of indecently assaulting Chan, 48, while she was waiting in front of a pedestrian crossing on Shau Kei Wan Road on Hong Kong Island at around 9.15pm, after the protest had ended.
He was then said to have knelt on the ground and begged for mercy, before running away until police intercepted him one block from the scene.
Fan pleaded not guilty to indecent assault, saying he had bumped into Chan, with his lips accidentally brushing her face, because he was dazzled by protesters’ flashlights on the opposite side of the road.
Delivering her verdict after trial, the magistrate noted that both Chan and her assistant, Alex Leung Ching-yau, who was with the lawmaker at the time, had tried their best to testify in court.
Tsui also observed that Fan’s behaviour was suspicious when he had deliberately walked towards the flashlights despite finding it uncomfortable on his eyes.
But she ultimately sided with the defence as she believed there were contradictions and irreconcilable differences in the two witnesses’ testimony on several key points, which included Fan’s location at the time and how he came into contact with Chan.
For instance, Chan testified that she felt “something soft and not wet” touching below her right nostril and above her lips; while Leung said he saw Fan kissing her on the right side of her lips.
They also gave different accounts on who asked Fan what he was doing and his reply.
Chan claimed Fan had said, “Sorry, forgive me,” while Leung recalled, “Sorry, excuse me.”