Three former lawmakers arrested over foul-smelling Legco stunts

Top News | Sophie Hui 19 Nov 2020

Three former pro-democracy lawmakers - two of whom refused to take part in the extended one-year Legislative Council - will appear at West Kowloon Court to face charges related to protests in the chamber earlier this year.

The trio - Eddie Chu Hoi-dick, 43, Ted Hui Chi-fung, 38, and Raymond Chan Chi-chuen, 48 - were arrested yesterday at their homes for disrupting Legislative Council meetings with a rotten plant and a foul-smelling liquid.

They were released on police bail pending their court appearance today on charges of contempt under the Legislative Powers and Privileges Ordinance, and administering poison with intent to injure under the Offences against the Person Ordinance.

The second charge, which came with a maximum sentence of three years' imprisonment, shocked the three and political circles. The offenses were in connection to how Hui tried to lob a white bag containing a rotting plant towards Legco president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen in the middle of a council meeting on May 28. He was stopped by security guards.

The bag fell to the floor and emitted a foul smell that spread through the chamber.

The liquid later spilled onto the floor when security guards took him out of the room.

The Legislative Council secretariat reported to police on both days, saying foul-smelling liquids were dropped or thrown toward the president's podium during meetings - causing discussion of the national anthem law to be interrupted.

Two people reported feeling unwell at the May 28 meeting, including pro-establishment lawmaker Rebecca Chan Hoi-yan who vomited and was sent to hospital.

According to the charge sheet, the rotting plant was said to contain methanethiol, hydrogen sulfide and carbon monoxide.

It was allegedly thrown with intent to injure, aggrieve or annoy Legco president Leung.

The liquid on June 4 was said to contain ammonia and indole.

Speaking to reporters after his release, Hui said it was an "arbitrary arrest" and criticized police for using criminal procedures to control what lawmakers do inside Legco.

"This regime is tyrannical," Hui said. "Its persecution of dissidents, of opposition, of us - pro-democracy legislators - has never stopped. It's been non-stop prosecution against us."

He criticized how the "most severe" charge was used against them, adding he had no intention of harming anybody.

Chan contrasted his prosecution to the Department of Justice's decision to strike out a private case he took out against pro-Beijing lawmaker Kwok Wai-keung for dragging him around Legco during a meeting on May 8.

"You can see the difference," Chan said.

Chu said the accusation was too harsh and the arrest is ridiculous.

"If someone farts in a lift and it smells bad they can be prosecuted with the same charge," he remarked. "This is ridiculous."

Anyone convicted of administering poison with intent to injure can be imprisoned for three years.

According to the Legislative Council Powers and Privileges Ordinance, creating a disturbance that interrupts the proceedings of the council is considered to be in contempt.

That can mean a prison term of 12 months and a fine of HK$10,000.

Barrister Luk Wai-hung said the prosecution has to prove that the three conducted the behavior unlawfully and maliciously.

He also said the prosecution has to prove that the smelly substances were destructive or noxious, which requires a chemical examination.

The European Union Office to Hong Kong and Macau expressed its concern over the arrest of the trio.

Both Chu and Chan refused to join the extended one-year legislative term, while Hui was among the 15 lawmakers who resigned en masse.

sophie.hui@singtaonewscorp.com

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