A Hong Kong court has ordered the arrest of fugitive former lawmaker Ted Hui Chi-fung some two months after he jumped bail in a case related to a 2019 anti-government protest.
The 38-year-old former Democratic Party lawmaker, who is now in self-exile in London, failed to show up at the District Court as required on Tuesday for a hearing in the case, which could have landed him in jail for up to seven years had he been convicted.
District Judge Clement Lee Hing-nin ordered Hui’s arrest at prosecutors’ request, while also adjourning the case of three co-defendants, including Hui’s former party colleague Lam Cheuk-ting.
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Hui fled Hong Kong to Denmark on November 30 last year while out on bail awaiting trial on nine charges tied to 2019’s protest movement and his actions in the legislature. Police insiders have previously told the Post that Hui, who later flew to Britain, was also wanted by police on suspicion of violating the national security law.
In the District Court case, Hui and Lam were charged alongside two others over an incident on the night of July 6, 2019, in which a man was harassed by protesters outside Tuen Mun Police Station for allegedly taking pictures of a rally in the neighbourhood earlier that day.
Hui faced charges of intending to pervert the course of justice, criminal damage and obtaining access to a computer with dishonest intent. The first two charges are punishable by seven years behind bars at the District Court, while the third offence carries a maximum sentence of five years.
West Kowloon Court granted Hui bail at HK$5,000 (US$645) plus a surety of the same amount on August 27, and allowed him to travel overseas in his capacity as a legislator and district councillor. The District Court extended Hui’s bail on the same terms on November 26, even after he resigned from his position in the Legislative Council.
Lawyer Jonathan Man Ho-ching, who represented Hui in the case, said on Tuesday he had received no instruction from his client and had ceased acting on his behalf. Judge Lee said the court would decide whether to confiscate Hui’s bail money after his arrest.
The arrest warrant was issued hours after another court threw out Hui’s appeal bid to clear his name for snatching a phone from a public officer three years ago.
Hui had applied to the High Court to appeal against his 2019 conviction on three charges stemming from an incident that took place in the Legislative Council on April 24, 2018, during a debate on a controversial co-location plan that would have seen mainland Chinese laws applied in Hong Kong for the first time.
On the day of the debate, he approached civil servant Christina Leung Ngok-sze in the lift lobby, snatched her phone and ran to a men’s toilet. While there, he sent five files from the government phone to his own email account.
Hui was subsequently fined HK$3,800 and ordered to do 240 hours of community service after being convicted of common assault, obstructing a public officer and obtaining access to a computer with dishonest intent.
In Tuesday’s hearing at the High Court, Mr Justice Wilson Chan Ka-shun said the court received a letter dated January 22 purportedly signed under the name “Hui Chi-fung”, seeking to apply for the appeal to be discontinued.
A similar letter was faxed to the Department of Justice, according to senior public prosecutor Audrey Parwani.
But neither party could verify the printed letter was indeed sent by Hui without a return address.
Hui’s solicitors and counsel had previously withdrawn from the case.
“Under the circumstances, the appeal is dismissed for want of prosecution by the appellant,” the judge said.
Parwani said the prosecution had considered applying for costs against Hui, but had been unable to verify his financial means.
“We don’t even have a return address for the application to be served,” she added.
Hui completed all 240 hours of community service before fleeing Hong Kong.