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Thursday, July 30, 2015, 18:06

Magistrate feels threat in controversial assault sentencing

By Kahon Chan/chinadailyasia.com

HONG KONG - A deputy magistrate expressed concerns over personal safety owing to intimidation since the conviction of a female protester who assaulted and obstructed a police officer using her breasts.

On Thursday, Ng Lai-ying was sentenced to 15-week imprisonment after being found guilty last month. The 30-year-old clerk had taken part in an anti-mainland tourist protest in Yuen Long on March 1.

Her conviction has drawn attention of international media and fellow activists. Deputy Magistrate Michael Chan Pik-kiu has since become a target of smear campaign by netizens. The courtroom at Tuen Mun Magistrates' Court was packed by Ng's supporters over the past two days.

In passing the sentence, Chan said he has been subject to threats and thus having concerns for personal safety. But he assured his personal feelings have no influence on the sentencing.

Ng's offense of obstruction was deemed serious, Chan explained on Thursday, because she attempted to accuse a police officer of indecent assault by pushing her chest against the male officer.

Three other defenders in the case were also sentenced on Thursday. One was given a jail sentence of five months and one week. Ng's boyfriend was ordered to a detention center. A 14-year-old student, arrested for multiple times, was sentenced to a rehabilitation center.

Chan said the punishment also served as a clear message that assault of police during public assemblies, which has become more frequent, is serious breach of law. The court therefore must pass deterrent penalties.

Senior Counsel Martin Lee Chu-ming applied for bail pending appeal on behalf of three defendants. They were all granted bail on HK$5,000 each. Lee, yet, voiced support for the magistrate.

Chan had once ordered court police to arrest activists shouting insulting slogans outside the courtroom on Wednesday. Ta Kung Pao wrote on Thursday that the unruly supporters had at one time obstructed entry of media and lawyer assistants into the courtroom.

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