Disqualified pro-democracy lawmaker “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung was found not guilty of misconduct in public office in connection with a monetary donation from media tycoon Jimmy Lai Chee-ying.
In his ruling, Judge Alex Lee Wan-tang said Leung’s conduct is not without suspicion, but the prosecution was unable to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the payment went directly to Leung instead of his party, the League of Social Democrats.
As such, Leung should be acquitted of the charge, the judge said.
Leung, 61, was arrested last year by the Independent Commission Against Corruption for accepting a HK$250,000 donation from Lai through Lai’s assistant Mark Simon in 2012 and failing to report it to the Legislative Council.
Leung had pleaded not guilty to the misconduct charge, saying the payment was a donation for his party’s branch operations in the New Territories.
The prosecution told the court earlier that Leung had transferred the money to the bank account of his Legco office accountant Tong Yuen-ching soon after receiving it.
The judge said that is where the doubt lies because he cannot determine based on the evidence that the money was meant for Leung or for the LSD and therefore the benefit of the doubt should go to the defendant.
The defense lawyer decided not to ask for reimbursement of the litigation fee, a move that the judge called “wise”.
The Department of Justice said it would study the ruling and the prosecutors’ report to decide whether to take further action.
Leung said outside the court that the pan-democratic camp had been falsely accused of being manipulated by some foreign forces and accepting money to make trouble in Hong Kong but now the case proves the accusation is totally untrue.
As for the judge finding his conduct in the case suspicious, Leung declined to comment.
Democratic Party lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting, one of the lawmakers who attended the hearings to show support for Leung, said he found it hard to understand why the justice department had prosecuted Leung in the first place.
Lam said the defense had evidence to prove that Leung accepted the money on behalf of the LSD but the prosecution had no evidence to argue against it.
But lawmaker Elizabeth Quat from the pro-Beijing Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong said she is disappointed with the ruling and urged the justice department to lodge an appeal.
Leung was stripped of his Legco seat by the High Court last month over improper oath-taking.
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