A pro-democracy lawmaker who was found guilty of snatching a government official’s phone during a heated debate last year dodged jail time today, and was slapped instead with a fine and a community service order.
Democratic Party lawmaker Ted Hui was convicted in May of common assault, obstructing a public officer, and accessing a computer with a criminal intent for swiping a phone from Christina Leung — a senior executive officer of the Security Bureau — then scampering off to the men’s room at the Legislative Council to comb through the device for information supposedly being collected on lawmakers.
In a mitigating statement at Eastern Magistrates’ Court today, Hui’s defense attorney referred to a probation officer’s report that described Hui as cooperative, and said that he felt remorse for what he had done and wanted to apologize to Leung, Apple Daily reports.
The probation officer’s report also noted that Hui is his family’s breadwinner, and that his wife had praised him as being unafraid to confront injustice (quite the character witness there). The probation officer’s report concludes by recommending a community service order for Hui.
Magistrate Cheng Lim-chi, however, noted that Hui had previously pleaded not guilty to the charges, and questioned whether he actually felt genuine remorse.
In the end, Cheng decided to sentence Hui to 240 hours of community service and handed him a HK$3,800 (US$485) fine.
Speaking outside the courtroom after the sentencing, Hui said he was grateful to have avoided jail time, adding that the focus should now be on the upcoming extradition bill, and that he would not stop protesting inside the legislature.
The phone-snatching incident happened last year when Hui and his colleagues were debating a controversial plan to allow mainland police to enforce mainland laws at a checkpoint inside the West Kowloon high-speed rail station.
Hui complained at the time that the Security Bureau official was monitoring the “entry and exit time of lawmakers” into the bills committee meeting on the legislation, which he suggested could breach the privacy ordinance.
He then snatched the woman’s phone away and then ran into the men’s toilet, where he scanned the device for some 10 minutes, purportedly to see what kind of information the Security Bureau was collecting on Legco members.