A prominent pro-establishment YouTube commentator has suggested that the judge who jailed seven men in connection with the 2019 Yuen Long mob attacks may have been bribed.
Alex Yeung – whose eponymous YouTube channel has accumulated one billion views since it was launched on July 3, 2019 in response to pro-democracy protests – made the accusation while speaking in support of relatives of the men who were sentenced on Thursday in connection with the attacks.
Yeung, whose channel has 251,000 subscribers, accused District Court Judge Eddie Yip of being politically biased and claimed – without providing any evidence – that Yip was under pressure or had received some advantages which led to an “unfair” judgement.
“I hope that the national security law (sic) and ICAC can investigate whether the judge had received any money,” said Yeung.
The YouTuber’s claims prompted an immediate response from the Department of Justice (DOJ), professional legal bodies and a member of the Executive Council.
A spokesman for the DOJ said that “any person who is dissatisfied with court decisions may lodge appeals through the excising mechanism and should not criticise judicial officers abusively. Otherwise, it is against the law and the HKSAR Government will follow up on all the illegal acts,” the department’s response read.
The Judiciary told HKFP that they would not comment in individual cases, but said that “any attempts to put unfair pressure on judges or members of staff in the Judiciary should be strongly condemned.”
The Hong Kong Bar Association also said that “any unjustified personal attack or unsubstantiated accusation of illegal motives or conduct against judges in relation to their discharge of judicial duties is a serious matter which the Bar has repeatedly condemned.”
Executive Councillor and barrister Ronny Tong said on Commercial Radio on Friday that the comments were in contempt of court and that those who made them should be arrested.
Responding to HKFP enquiries, the Law Society of Hong Kong said they “reiterate its confidence in the compliance by judges with their Judicial Oath and in their impartial administration of justice without fear or favour.”
“Any attempt to pressure and/or influence judges in their decision making process must immediately cease. We urge all parties to respect the rule of law and the constitutional role of judges in upholding the rule of law.”
Yeung’s controversial comments were made a press briefing on Thursday involving the wife of one of the seven men sentenced to between three-and-a-half to seven years behind bars for rioting and wounding during the 2019 Yuen Long mob attacks, at which they slammed the court over what they described as “unfair sentencing.”
Mrs. Tang, wife of Tang Wai-sum, who was jailed for seven years, criticised the court’s decision along with Yeung and the administrator of a pro-establishment Facebook page Sandy Li.
Tang’s wife said that her husband was innocent, and that his phone contained evidence that would prove his innocence, but the court refused to review it.
In sentencing, district court judge Yip said that Tang played a “directing role” as he witnessed how other white-shirted people “persistently attacked” victims, even after some fell onto the ground.
The attack, during which white-clad men attacked people in Yuen Long MTR Station and inside MTR train carriages, shocked the city and was one of the most controversial incidents during months of sometimes violent protests against an extradition bill. Police were also accused of colluding with the attackers, some of whom were allegedly triad members, but insisted they were too stretched to respond swiftly on the night.
When asked why Tang refused to make his own submission in court, Mrs. Tang said “do you think self-defence would work? Whether you make your own submission or not, you’ll die in his [the judge’s] hands.”
Mrs. Tang claimed that Tang only went to the MTR station to check the situation as glass bottles and rubbish bins were thrown at their barbeque site next to the station.
Tang’s wife also claimed that no victims of the attacks testified in court. Infact, during the trials, 15 witnesses and victims gave testimony.
Tang’s wife said that they would consider appealing the case if they had the money. Her friend Crystal said that they would also consider applying for legal aid.
Li said the Department of Justice should seek a retrial because of “unfair justice and that the judge abused his power,” and instead was letting “grassroots citizens losing their properties and lives.”
Update 17:44: The piece has been updated with a response from the Law Society of Hong Kong.