The High Court has overturned a ruling made by a lower court two years ago to convict former lawmaker Raymond Wong Yuk-man on assault charges in a case that involved Hong Kong’s then leader Leung Chun-ying.
A judge on Thursday quashed the guilty verdict on Wong and granted him compensation for the cost of his appeal, saying there was insufficient evidence to determine that Wong had assaulted Leung.
The decision came after Wong had lodged an appeal against his conviction in 2016 by an Eastern Magistrate’s court, which had pronounced Wong guilty of common assault for throwing a glass at Leung during a 2014 Legislative Council question-and-answer session.
Delivering the appeals verdict on Thursday, Justice Judianna Barnes Wai-ling said while Leung claimed that he was afraid and shocked after the glass-hurling incident took place, and that he feared he could be injured, he in fact did not “freeze” and instead appeared to be calm, going by the security camera footage from that time.
Leung would have looked at where the glass had landed immediately afterwards if he was really scared, but he didn’t do so until nearly two and a half minutes later as seen in the footage, Barnes noted.
She also said that it was not proved beyond reasonable doubt that Wong had intended to attack Leung, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
In light of this, Wong has been cleared of his assault conviction, Barnes said, overturning the Magistrates’ Court ruling.
On July 3, 2014, Wong hurled a drinking glass in the direction of Leung during a question-and-answer session in Legco.
Wong was found guilty of common assault by an Eastern Magistrate’s court in October 2016 and received a two-week prison sentence.
He was granted bail since pending an appeal against the conviction.
Barnes pointed out that although she did not approve of Wong’s previous behavior including throwing bananas and grabbing documents and she considered his act of hurling a glass intentional, she accepted Wong’s argument that the act was not aimed at harming anyone but was only a show of protest.
When Wong threw the glass, the object landed onto the ground behind Leung, rather than hitting Leung.
Giving her ruling on the appeals case, Barnes said the lower court had failed to fully consider Wong’s identity as a lawmaker, his protest practices in the Legco, as well as the direction the glass was thrown and where it landed.
After winning his appeal, Wong, whose supporters chanted slogans inside and outside the courtroom, said justice had prevailed.
He stressed that the reason why he appealed was because he didn’t want his case to set a precedent.
Leung, meanwhile, wrote on his Facebook page that he hopes the ruling won’t encourage others to mimic Wong’s actions.
The former chief executive said he will still fill a police report if he encounters a similar attack in the future.
The Department of Justice said it will study the ruling and the prosecution’s report before deciding its next move.
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