August 8, 2022

Hong Kong’s highest courtroom on Friday overturned the conviction of a protester for carrying plastic zip fasteners, with judges warning that the authorities’ expanded interpretation of the legislation risked making a “thought crime”.

Chan Chun-kit was sentenced to 5-1/2-months’ jail by a decrease courtroom after his arrest in November 2019 in direction of the top of extended and typically violent anti-government protests that rocked the Asian monetary hub that 12 months.

Prosecutors had mentioned the 48 zip ties that police present in his backpack fell foul of part 17 of the Abstract Offences Ordinance in that he possessed “an instrument match for illegal functions”. The defendant denied the fees.

The decrease courtroom Justice of the Peace dominated that Chan meant to make use of the ties to illegally bind road railings collectively to construct barricades for fights and roadblocks.

The arguments and ruling have been later upheld on attraction.

However a panel of 5 judges on the Courtroom of Closing Enchantment unanimously overturned each the conviction and sentence on Friday, saying such a large interpretation “would do violence to the language”.

“Moreover, such a development would render the scope of part 17 extraordinarily huge and successfully flip the part right into a thought crime,” the judges mentioned of their ruling.

DECISIONS UNDER SCRUTINY

The panel was headed by Chief Justice Andrew Cheung, and included a international jurist, Anthony Gleeson, the previous Chief Justice of the Excessive Courtroom of Australia.

Rulings by Hong Kong’s highest courtroom are being intently watched by legal professionals, activists and diplomats as nationwide safety and different protest-related circumstances begin to work up by means of the courtroom system.

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Each native and international legal professionals say the highest courtroom shall be important within the months and years forward to make sure Hong Kong’s rule of legislation is maintained.

Within the wake of the 2019 disaster, China imposed a sweeping nationwide safety legislation on town – laws that gave town’s chief the ability to pick judges to listen to nationwide safety circumstances.

Whereas this case didn’t contain the brand new legislation, the preliminary attraction was initially handled by three nationwide safety judges, Jeremy Poon, Derek Pang and Anthea Pang.

Spokesmen for Hong Kong police and the federal government’s Division of Justice each mentioned they revered the Courtroom of Closing Enchantment ruling and would research it. “The choice … clarifies the related authorized rules,” the Division of Justice spokesman mentioned.

Some international governments and legal professionals have criticised the brand new safety legislation for being too obscure and coercive and warned that it places Hong Kong’s authorized independence in danger.

Each Chinese language and Hong Kong officers have repeatedly mentioned it’s vital to making sure long-term stability following the turbulence of 2019.