Courts | Chiang’s ‘re-trial’ a violation of right to defense, say lawyers

The lawyers for defendant Scott Chiang, who was this week found guilty of unlawful assembly a second time by the Court of First Appeal, have described his most recent court session as a “violation of the fundamental right of defense,” of the concept of the rule of law, and of the Basic Law and the principle of ‘one country, two systems’ enshrined within.

Last year, Chiang and democrat 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.

There were many unorthodox aspects to the initial ruling of the Court of First Instance, according to lawyers familiar with the case. Accordingly, Chiang filed an appeal to the Court of Second Instance, which sided with the defendant and ordered that the case be re-trialed.

However, contrary to his expectations, Chiang was not afforded the chance to reexamine the facts or witnesses involved in his sentencing during the April 30 retrial session. Hence the session became merely an opportunity for the Court of First Instance to review its earlier ruling, which it ultimately came to agree with.

Now Scott Chiang and lawyers Pedro Leal and Jorge Menezes are appealing both the guilty sentencing of the most recent session on April 30, as well as the process by which the re-trial was conducted.

According to the 117-article appeal reviewed by the Times, by failing to give the accused the right to be heard, the Court of First Instance has both “violated the defendant’s right to defense,” as well as Law No. 9/1999, which stipulates Macau courts’ “duty to comply with decisions rendered on appeal by higher courts.”

“Since there has been a change in the type of crime, which relates to all the facts and the entire production of evidence [… the court] should have annulled the previous hearing [… and] ordered the April 2019 hearing to start afresh,” argues the defendant’s lawyers.

Moreover, the lawyers argue that no “effective” evidence was used against Chiang to reach the verdict. According to the law, the evidence produced in the initial trial had an “effectiveness” lifetime of just 60 days, but since the retrial was held almost one year later, “the evidence produced at the 2018 hearing had lost its effectiveness.” As such, Leal and Menezes argue that the “accused must be acquitted” and “the 2019 hearing should be annulled.”

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