Hong Kong’s Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng has taken over a private prosecution filed by former pro-democracy lawmaker Ray Chan, who accused his pro-Beijing rival Kwok Wai-keung of assault during a meeting in the legislature in May.
Chan said he was informed of the decision last Friday, with a letter from the prosecution division of the Department of Justice (DoJ) addressed to the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Court. In the letter the DoJ requested a hearing on Monday afternoon, for the prosecution to “offer no evidence to the summons” against Kwok. The scheduled pre-trial review was also cancelled.
Cheng’s intervention would move the case to be dropped, the People Power chairman said, adding that the department did not provide any reasons for “letting Kwok off the hook.”
“Even if the court accepts a private prosecution, the DoJ can let people go anytime… the DoJ is covering up thuggery in the legislature,” Chan wrote on Facebook.
Kwok, on the other hand, told local media the decision was “delayed justice,” but said it also showed the justice department had carefully considered multiple factors.
“Although the DoJ has intervened, it can only be confirmed when the court and the judge make a final decision. At this moment, everything is still too early to tell,” the Federation of Trade Unions lawmaker said in a Facebook post.
The alleged assault took place during a House Committee meeting on May 8, which descended into chaos as lawmakers battled for control of the Legislative Council (LegCo) committee. During the confrontation, Kwok was seen in footage dragging Chan along the floor. The ex-lawmaker later went to Ruttonjee Hospital and said doctors told him he had suffered from a herniated disc.
Legislators from the opposing camps clashed in the conference room, as democrats protested against Starry Lee of the pro-Beijing DAB party for “seizing power” as chairperson. Pro-establishment lawmakers, meanwhile, called for the Civic Party’s Dennis Kwok to be ousted after Beijing accused him and other democratic lawmakers of “malicious filibustering” to stall the chairperson’s election.
Chan launched a private prosecution against Kwok around three weeks after the encounter, saying police had taken no action since he reported the case.
Last week, eight democrats were arrested in relation to the chaotic scenes in May. They were apprehended for alleged contempt and interference with LegCo officers. The pro-democracy camp has blasted the government for making “arbitrary arrests” and “politically-motivated” prosecutions, saying they are attempts to suppress protests in the LegCo.