This file photo shows the facade of the Court of Final Appeal in Central, Hong Kong. (INFORMATION SERVICES DEPARTMENT)
The Court of Final Appeal (CFA) on Friday rejected the appeal application by two disqualified separatist lawmakers Sixtus Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching who sought to reinstate their Legislative Council seats.
The ruling means the case over their LegCo membership is closed for the duo; the Court of First Instance initially disqualified them last November.
Moreover, the two are required to pay court costs of HK$12 million and refund about HK$1.8 million in remuneration and allowances they had drawn from LegCo.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the city enjoys judicial independence and rule of law. She stressed that the court handles every case independently and fairly
Chief Justice of the CFA Geoffrey Ma Tao-li and two other permanent judges of the CFA, Roberto Ribeiro and Joseph Paul Fok, heard the case.
After listening to arguments presented by the pair’s lawyers, the judges said Leung and Yau’s appeal application was not reasonably argued, therefore upheld the Court of First Instance’s ruling.
Following the CFA decision, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said the city enjoys judicial independence and rule of law. She stressed that the court handles every case independently and fairly.
Lam said when the legal proceedings are complete, the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau would follow up with by-election arrangements to fill vacated seats in the city’s legislature.
All follow-up steps taken by the bureau will be in strict accordance with the law and regulations to ensure it will be fair and just. The bureau will also need to take into consideration concrete factors such as availability of venues, resources and manpower to organize a by-election.
LegCo President Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen told reporters on Friday that, following the LegCo Commission’s decision, the LegCo Secretariat would ask Leung and Yau to each return about HK$890,000 – the amount they had drawn as salaries and other expenses.
The two were disqualified from the legislature for violating the Basic Law of the SAR and the local ordinance concerning the oath-taking process when assuming office.
The Court of Appeal rejected the pair’s earlier appeal in January.
During the swearing-in ceremony of Hong Kong’s sixth-term LegCo last October, Leung and Yau altered their oaths, used derogatory language insulting the Chinese nation, and displayed separatist banners. Their behavior triggered outrage across the city and even in other Chinese communities elsewhere in the world.
The lower courts followed the interpretation of the Basic Law by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee on Nov 7 last year which specified that the oath must be recited as written and in a sincere manner.
The duo also face charges of unlawful assembly and attempted forced entry after they forced their way into a LegCo meeting in November last year. The case is still in legal process.
Besides Leung and Yau, four other lawmakers – Leung Kwok-hung, Edward Yiu Chung-yim, Lau Siu-lai and Nathan Law Kwun-chung – were also disqualified for not taking the oath properly in July. They have until Sept 11 to file appeals against the verdict.