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Tuesday, April 19, 2016, 19:43

CE becomes first serving leader to depose

By Shadow Li

CE becomes first serving leader to depose
Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying (center) leaves the Eastern Magistrates' Courts in Sai Wan Ho on April 19, 2016. (Edmond Tang / China Daily)

HONG KONG - Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying became the city's first serving leader to testify as a witness in a court of law when he made an appearance in connection with a common assault hearing Tuesday morning.

Opposition lawmaker Wong Yuk-man stands accused of one count of common assault for throwing a glass cup at Leung when the Chief Executive was attending a routine Question and Answer session at Hong Kong's Legislative Council (LegCo) in July 2014.

The crowd at the courtroom was divided along pro and anti-establishment lines and there was uproar. The No 7 courtroom was witness to an impromtu clash and war of words. Clerks and police officers had to intervene and the hearing was delayed for more than 15 minutes.

Magistrate Chu Chun-keung ordered silence during the hearing.

In his testimony, Leung said he saw a lawmaker throwing papers at him and later heard glass shattering after something smashed on the floor behind him.

He said he had been standing in the well of the LegCo chamber at that time, and had been startled. Then he had checked himself for injuries.

Leung said LegCo sessions had witnessed throwing fits before, but those had been merely disruptive.

CE becomes first serving leader to depose
Lawmaker Wong Yuk-man (center) arrives at the Eastern Magistrates' Courts in Sai Wan Ho on April 19, 2016. (Roy Liu / China Daily)

The court was told that Leung had picked up a large, thick glass shard later and handed it to his personal security guard.

Wong, cross-examining Leung, asked if the CE had got used to the brand of protests generally staged inside the LegCo chambers. Leung replied with a "no".

At this point, the magistrate stopped and cautioned those present in the courtroom and had sneered at Wong or Leung's remarks.

Wong on Tuesday petitioned the court to consider four more witnesses, including Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung, the current Secretary General of the Secretariat of the Legislative Council Kenneth Chen Wei-on and lawmaker Christopher Cheung Wah-fung. Wong claimed that all of them had a direct view of his actions being indicted.

The magistrate approved only one more witness, Chen Wei-on, on the grounds that there was no sufficient information to subpoena other witnesses.

CE becomes first serving leader to depose
Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying (center) arrives at the Eastern Magistrates' Courts in Sai Wan Ho on April 19, 2016. (Roy Liu / China Daily)

The court had earlier approved Wong's petition to allow six witnesses, including James Tien Pei-chun, a lawmaker from the pro-establishment camp, and Albert Chan Wai-yip from the opposition camp, to depose.

Chu has already rejected Wong's request to adjourn the case between four and six weeks. Wong had sought an adjournment as he needed to table on April 19 more than 100 amendments to the Appropriation Bill 2016 currently being debated in the Legislative Council. He also sought time to study the evidence and precedents as he lacked legal representation for this case.

The magistrate turned down Wong saying that the trial date had been fixed back in December and granting a request of adjournment at this stage would but waste the court's resources.

The trial, initially slated to continue on Wednesday, was adjourned to Thursday as both parties need to reach agreement on some facts, as well as resolve technical issues in replaying video and voice recordings that arose in the courthouse on Wednesday.

Leung will continue his testimony on Thursday. Leung at first expressed hopes of expediting his testimony on Wednesday due to the likelihood of scheduling conflicts with his other public office activities. He later accepted it would be better if the trial was adjourned to Thursday.

When leaving the court, the courthouse’s main entrance was besieged by both Leung’s supporters and opponents. Those from inside had to leave by passing through a wave of protesters and supporters who were chanting different slogans and carrying placards outside the courthouse, with police officers trying to keep a way out of the court.

Seats at the courtroom were taken an hour before the hearing commenced at 9:30 am. One woman claimed that she had queued up before 6 am to reserve a spot.

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