Court reexamines Scott Chiang case conclusions

Democracy activist Scott Chiang was back at Macau’s Court of First Instance yesterday, repeating proceedings from last year that were found by Macau’s second court to have been improperly handled.

Although the session had been described by the Court of Second Instance as a “re-trial”, Chiang yesterday told the Times that it was not the case that the entire trial would be repeated.

He said that yesterday’s session was a “not the chance to re-examine the fact or the witnesses,” but instead “merely a [reassessment] of the conclusion of the events.”

Last year, Chiang and lawmaker Sulu Sou were found guilty of the crime of unlawful assembly, even as they had been brought to Macau’s first court on charges of the more serious offence of aggravated disobedience. Chiang appealed the court’s decision, but lawmaker Sou opted to waive his right to appeal in order to return to his Legislative Assembly seat as soon as possible.

There were many unorthodox aspects to the initial ruling of the Court of First Instance, according to lawyers familiar with the case.

For one, the defense lawyers, had not been given the opportunity to prepare an adequate defense for his client since the charge had been altered during the sentencing.

Another point of concern involved the fact that the first court’s ruling had not detailed the exact provision in the law Chiang and Sou were said to have violated.

The Court of Second Instance sided with the activist’s appeal and ordered that the case be re-trialed.

However, Chiang said yesterday that the court session did not afford his defense the chance to reexamine the facts or witnesses involved in his sentencing.

“It was not the re-trial that we [previously] thought it would be. The Court [of Second Instance] stated that the lower court did not need to redo the whole process, just the part that was handled incorrectly when the charge was changed.”

Asked whether he could or would appeal that decision, Chiang said: “I suppose we could… but I don’t really see the point.”

The Court will announce its verdict on May 14. DB

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