More prosecutors set amid protest jam

Local | Angel Kwan 12 Dec 2019

Angel Kwan

Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah said she would not rule out the deployment of more personnel to handle unrest-related court cases, as lawmakers slammed the Department of Justice's recent mishaps.

Responding to an oral question by pro-establishment lawmaker Michael Luk Chung-hung, Cheng said the department had arranged for assistance from officers who formerly served in a dedicated team in the prosecution division, in view of a recent increase in the number of public events.

"Subject to the overall operational needs of the prosecution division, we do not rule out the possibility of introducing measures as necessary in the future, such as deployment of additional manpower to handle relevant cases," Cheng said at the Legislative Council yesterday.

She said the department would also consider outsourcing prosecution jobs to private senior counsels or barristers.

Lawmakers from both camps have criticized the department for recent mishaps, with Luk saying that on October 4, a case involving five defendants at Eastern Magistrates' Courts resulted in a misnomer for one of the defendants, and inconsistency between the Chinese and English language versions of the charges. The prosecution had to withdraw the charges against all the defendants and start again at a later time.

Cheng said the department has "learned a lesson" and reviewed the situation internally.

She said there will be more effective solutions for similar situations in the future.

Democratic Party lawmaker Ted Hui Chi-fung said many prosecutions were not based on evidence but on politics.

"Some of those people taken to court did not even have their statements taken, and many documents were not ready by that time," Hui said. "I urge you to stop these indiscriminate arrests and indiscriminate prosecutions."

Cheng said she couldn't agree with Hui, and stressed that the prosecutions were based on evidence and not politically motivated.

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