Former Hong Kong lawmaker’s disclosure of police officer investigation into Yuen Long attacks in 2019 was not illegal – defense
Former lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting did not break the law with his comments on the role of a senior police officer in the Yuen Long mob attack in July 2019, his lawyer told a court, claiming that Lam did not have to answer charges of disclosure of an investigation by Hong Kong’s anti-transplant body.
The Democrat, 44, in April denied three counts of disclosing the identity of a person investigated by the Independent Commission against Corruption (ICAC), an offense under the ‘Ordinance on the Prevention of Corruption.
Lam was accused of announcing at three press conferences between November 2019 and July 2020 that the anti-corruption agency was investigating Superintendent Yau Nai-keung, in connection with the attack at Yuen Long MTR station on July 21, 2019.
Yau was the deputy district (crime) commander in Yuen Long at the time of the attacks, in which more than 100 men armed with canes and dressed in white shirts stormed an MTR station and attacked passengers, leaving 45 injured – including journalists, protesters, commuters and the Lam himself.
Police have been criticized for reacting slowly and reportedly turning a blind eye to the incident, with some officers seen leaving the scene or interacting with the men dressed in white.
Yau told reporters shortly after the incident – which was broadcast live on TV and online – that a preliminary investigation he conducted did not find any suspects or weapons at the scene. . Yau was then promoted to Superintendent of the New Northern Territories, with jurisdiction over the police unit investigating the incident.
The official account of the attack – a pivotal moment in months of anti-government protests – evolved over the course of a year. Chinese state officials and media ultimately claimed it was a “gang fight,” while pro-government conspiracy theorists accused Lam of being the instigator of the conflict – despite the lack of evidence.
He faces a separate charge of riots in connection with the incident, for which several assailants have been jailed.
Section 30 of the ordinance states that the disclosure of the identity of persons investigated for offenses under Part 2 of the ordinance – such as bribery – is illegal.
Misconduct in the Public Service
Defense lawyer Erik Shum told the Eastern Magistrates’ Court on Thursday that Lam did not mention in his three press conferences that Yau was under investigation for alleged misconduct in the exercise. civil service, a common law offense not covered by the Corruption Prevention Ordinance.
So it was not an offense to disclose it, the lawyer said.
Although Yau was indeed investigated for other offenses under Part 2 of the order, which would be prohibited from disclosure, it was not possible for the public to know or not. infer based on what Lam had said, Shum argued.
“Looking at the contents of the three press conferences, no one would know that Yau Nai-keung was investigated for Part 2 offenses. The public did not find out about these Part 2 offenses. only when Lam was arrested, ”Shum said.
“What is curious is that the accused repeatedly avoided mentioning the [suspected] Part 2 violations, but that was disclosed by the ICAC, ”he said. “What would be the accused’s crime then?” ”
Shum said the court’s only consideration was therefore to decide whether what Lam had disclosed was bound by section 30, adding that its scope should not be extended.
At the end of the proceedings on Thursday, spectators shouted their support for Lam. “Democracy will be victorious! cried an elderly woman. “Stay strong!” another person said. Lam responded by waving to them and nodding his head as he was led out of the dock.
He has been in detention since February for alleged national security offenses related to an unofficial primary elections in July 2020 – one of 47 Democrats awaiting trial for the primaries.
Senior ICAC investigator Martin Lee King-man said on Wednesday the agency invited Lam to testify on July 25, 2019, days after the attack, Stand News reported.
Lam was informed that the agency had opened an investigation into Yau for alleged misconduct in public office or corruption, Lee said, adding that Lam had been reminded that these details were not to be disclosed, according to l article 30.
The defense said Lam then told anti-corruption officers that disclosure of the misconduct in the performance of public office offense was not prohibited under Section 30. Lee as well as two other ICAC agents who also testified denied that Lam said this.
The trial continues.