A group of prosecutors have issued an open letter accusing the justice chief of putting politics above legal principles when prosecuting protesters.

It came after the Department of Justice charged 44 protesters with rioting, just a day after they were arrested at a protest against police brutality on Sunday which the force deemed an unlawful assembly.

The group of prosecutors, who used a Department of Justice Prosecutions Division letterhead, said two major principles of prosecution to consider are whether there is a reasonable prospect of conviction, and whether it is in line with the public interest.

prosecutors letter
Photo: Supplied.

“Unfortunately, Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng and Director of Public Prosecutions David Leung have apparently forgotten about the above principles,” they wrote.

“Cheng has poor personal conduct and is not an expert in criminal law. When handling cases involving large-scale public events, she mainly considered political factors, and insisted on prosecution when there was not adequate evidence, no reasonable prospect of conviction, or when it was not in line with public interest, treating the prosecution code as trash,” they added.

At least five prosecutors, including a high-ranking one, issued the open letter, according to unnamed sources cited by RTHK.

Teresa Cheng
Teresa Cheng. Photo: GovHK.

The prosecutors also cited a past case in which a court said Leung was a dishonest witness. They said Leung was “trampled” by Cheng and failed in his gatekeeping role.

They said Cheng and Leung would only give recited answers to media when responding to controversial issues, and failed to stabilise the morale of their staff.

“They have never faced the legal profession and the public sincerely. Cheng only knows to kowtow to the chief executive. Leung and Cheng do not deserve their roles as director of public prosecutions and secretary for justice,” they wrote.

David Leung Cheuk-yin
Director of Public Prosecutions David Leung Cheuk-yin. File photo: inmediahk.net.

They added that they were shocked and angered by the July 21 mob attack in Yuen Long – calling it an incident of collusion between police and triads – and said they supported an independent investigation.

A Department of Justice spokesperson denied accusations of political considerations when handling cases. It said the secretary for justice and the director of public prosecutions were “very disappointed” by the groundless accusations.

The letter came after a similar letter was issued on Tuesday by prosecutors. The signatories of the Tuesday letter showed parts of their staff cards to prove their identities, including two senior government counsels.

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.