Hong Kong protests: former opposition lawmaker mounts legal challenge over Department of Justice’s decision to quash private prosecution bids against police officer, taxi driver

Chan Ho-him
·3-min read

A former Hong Kong opposition lawmaker has mounted a legal challenge over the Department of Justice’s decision to quash two private prosecution bids against a police officer who shot an anti-government demonstrator and a taxi driver accused of ramming his vehicle into protesters during last year’s social unrest.

In a writ submitted on Tuesday, the Democratic Party’s Ted Hui Chi-fung asked the court to declare the justice minister’s intervention and throwing out of the two cases were void and unconstitutional for being in violation of the Basic Law, the city’s mini constitution, which says the justice department’s prosecutions should be “free from any interference”.

The Democratic Party’s Ted Hui. Photo: Felix Wong
The Democratic Party’s Ted Hui. Photo: Felix Wong

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The two cases, one against an officer who shot a 21-year-old protester in the stomach amid a confrontation last November, and another involving taxi driver Henry Cheng Kwok-chuen who was accused of ramming a crowd of demonstrators in October last year, came to a halt after West Kowloon Magistracy in August approved the justice department’s request to withdraw the charges over insufficient evidence.

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In June this year, Eastern Court Magistrate Lam Tsz-kan found Hui produced sufficient evidence to press ahead with three charges against the officer, including shooting with intent and two firearms charges, the former carrying a penalty of life imprisonment.

Taxi driver Cheng, 59, faced one count of dangerous driving under a court summons under Hui’s private prosecution, which is punishable by three years’ imprisonment and a fine.

I hope that the court will provide an answer to the public through the judicial review

Ted Hui, Democratic Party

In his application to the High Court, Hui argued that the justice department’s decision to withdraw the charges were illegal, as it failed to appreciate or evaluate the relevant law and available facts which showed reasonable conviction prospects for both cases.

The department had misapplied the law to conclude there was insufficient evidence, he argued, saying: “The secretary [for justice] would have, therefore, failed in her constitutional duty to control criminal proceedings with the application.”

Hong Kong justice chief wants case against officer who shot protester thrown out

Hui, who resigned as a lawmaker last week along with 14 other opposition legislators after Beijing moved to disqualify four of their colleagues, said in a separate statement that the withdrawal of the cases was unfair to those who were injured in the events.

“I hope that the court will provide an answer to the public through the judicial review, in terms of the [justice department’s intervention] in private prosecutions,” he said, adding that the department’s move could have affected Hongkongers’ right for private prosecutions under the common law system.

The Post has contacted the justice department for comment.

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