HK prosecutor taken off police cases over Facebook comments related to anti-government protests

09-Sep-2019 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:02 AM Print This Post

A Hong Kong government lawyer has been taken off police-related court cases after making online comments about anti-government protests which have rocked the city for months.

The arrangement came to light as tensions mounted between prosecutors and the embattled police force, after the head of a court workers’ body accused police of lying over the arrests of pro-democracy activists.

In a circular to all staff on Friday, the justice department announced a prosecutor had been reassigned after it received a media inquiry.

“The prosecutor has not been involved in any public order event cases,” the Department of Justice’s administration division wrote.

“To avoid a public perception that the prosecutor is unable to fairly and impartially exercise his duty due to his public remarks, he will not be handling cases involving police.”

The prosecutor, who had been advising on High Court-related cases, would work on customs-related matters instead, one legal source said.

Prosecutors are typically gatekeepers to a police operation and handle the matter if charges are pressed. But relations between the force and prosecutors have been tested since the head of the Court Prosecutors Association, which represents prosecutors handling magistrate-level cases, accused police in a leaked email of lying in denying seven lawmakers and activists were deliberately arrested a day before a major planned rally.

On the latest development, it was unclear who first spotted the prosecutor’s online remarks. But screenshots circulated within the department showed they were captured soon after he posted them, in one case within a minute. The fact it happened on Facebook suggested the image came from someone linked with him on the site.

Police groups write to school over teacher’s ‘spread of hatred’ against force

On August 18, when online outlet Stand News interviewed a masked protester about a retreat from Admiralty, the prosecutor left a comment which read: “Thank you!”

He also left comments on other posts, advising protesters and residents in Ma On Shan of their legal rights.

“Give the CCTV footage to the lawyer, we can’t let [riot police] disregard the law as they wish,” he wrote on Apple Daily’s Facebook page.

“If the [four arrested protesters in Yuen Long] have no criminal record, they can directly apply for bail to the High Court, and no bail review is needed,” he wrote on pro-democracy activist Nathan Law Kwun-chung’s Facebook page.

The Post contacted the department and the prosecutor involved for comment.

In the internal circular, the department told all staff that civil servants should ensure their views do not create any conflict of interest or appear to compromise their political neutrality.

“Civil servants shall at all times ensure that their behaviour would not impede their performance of official duties in a fair and professional manner,” the message read.

This article Hong Kong prosecutor taken off police cases over Facebook comments related to anti-government protests first appeared on South China Morning Post


Category: Hong Kong

Print This Post