Ousted Hong Kong lawmakers Baggio Leung and Yau Wai-ching convicted for storming Legco meeting

Ousted Hong Kong lawmakers Baggio Leung and Yau Wai-ching convicted for storming Legco meeting

Duo found guilty of illegal assembly after trying to force way into room to take oath of office in 2016


Baggio Leung (left) and Yau Wai-ching spoke to the Post before the verdict.
Photo: Nora Tam/SCMP

Two ousted Hong Kong pro-independence lawmakers were found guilty on Friday of storming a Legislative Council meeting as they attempted to force their way in to take an oath of office two years ago.

Acting Kowloon City Principal Magistrate Wong Sze-lai convicted Sixtus Baggio Leung Chun-hang, 31, and Yau Wai-ching, 26, of taking part in an illegal assembly on November 2, 2016.

Their three assistants, Yeung Lai-hong, Chung Suet-ying and Cheung Tsz-lung, were found guilty of the same charge for taking part in the episode, which left a few security guards injured, including one who collapsed.

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Even if they are Legislative Council members, [they cannot] use that as an amulet to commit criminal behaviours

In an interview with the Postbefore the verdict, Leung and Yau vowed to lodge an appeal, saying the ruling would have wide implications for the city’s common law tradition. They claimed the decision marked the first time someone had been held accountable for a crime retroactively.

“A guilty verdict would leave us no choice but to lodge an appeal,” Leung told the Post.

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But in pronouncing the duo guilty on Friday, the magistrate stressed that this case had nothing to do with the pair’s status as lawmakers, but with “peace and order”.

“Even if they are Legislative Council members, [they cannot] use that as an amulet to commit criminal behaviours,” Wong said.

The criminal charge stemmed from the duo’s contentious oath-taking in 2016. On November 2 of that year, Yau and Leung tried to storm Legco to retake their oaths after their anti-China antics during an earlier swearing-in ceremony in October led them to be barred from the chamber.

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Their attempt to force their way in prompted Legco president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen to move the meeting to a side conference room. All five were accused of storming that later meeting.

Prosecutors said a chaotic scene unfolded, during which Leung, Yeung and Cheung hurled verbal insults at the guards. The two assistants helped Leung when he tried repeatedly to jump and grab hold of a door and sought to climb over the cordon set up by the guards. Meanwhile, Yau kicked and kneed a security guard in the leg during the fracas, they said.

A woman security guard collapsed, while others were injured during the scrum that formed in a narrow corridor comprising Leung and Yau’s group, journalists and guards.

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The pair argued that they had not expected such resistance from the guards because they had believed they were still lawmakers at the time. They added that it was against the Legislative Council (Powers and Privileges) Ordinance for anyone to obstruct lawmakers.

Asked whether he could have found a less confrontational approach to re-enter the chamber, Leung recently told the Posthe had been unable to.

He and Yau did not expect the crowd to be as large as it was, he said, claiming he had already taken certain measures to divert journalists’ attention and reduce the crowd size before heading to the room. Leung described his attempt to be sworn in as his duty to serve their voters.

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“If I had a crystal ball, I would have locked [my assistant] up in the room,” Leung added. He and Yau said their three assistants should not have been dragged into the matter with them.

They noted the High Court did not officially unseat them until November 15 – 13 days after the incident.

The pair’s swearing-in antics on October 12 prompted the National People’s Congress Standing Committee in Beijing to issue an interpretation of the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, in November. But the decision, which required public officials to take their oaths “sincerely” and “solemnly”, did not come until November 8, some six days later.

To find them guilty, therefore, went against common law, which was never applied retroactively, Leung said.


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