The prosecutor of Sulu Sou’s case has demanded that the Court of First Instance give a prison sentence to Sulu Sou and Scott Chiang, rather than applying a penalty.
The trial of lawmaker Sulu Sou continued yesterday morning at the Court of First Instance, with three witnesses present at the court to give their testimony. During the afternoon, no witnesses were called, after the defendants’ lawyers gave up on three witnesses who did not arrive for their testimony during that time, with defending lawyer Jorge Menezes further declaring that all facts had already been clearly testified to by the previous witness.
Following the lawyer’s request, the trial proceeded with closing statements from the prosecution and the defense. Lawyer Pedro Leal said that “great efforts have been made to end Sulu Sou’s political career, but the court has [had] no role in those efforts.”
In the morning session, Alin Lam, member of the New Macau Association (ANM), Kam Sut Leng, president of the ANM, and one volunteer who had participated in the demonstration, then followed Sulu Sou and Scott Chiang to Penha Hill, and were all called to give their testimonies on the events of May 15, 2016.
During his intervention, Alin Lam said “it was me [who] temporarily decided” to stop at the white tent [Nam Van Nautical Center]” and “I made a mistake. I made the wrong judgment under the given conditions, therefore the mistake is on me.”
According to Lam, he did not hear the police authorities telling the demonstration they were not allowed to stop at the white tent. However, the instruction was included in the documents detailing the route approved by the police authority, when ANM first applied to hold the demonstration.
All three witnesses’ testimonies noted that Sulu Sou and Scott Chiang’s intention of visiting the CE’s official residence was to leave their letters in the CE’s official residence mailbox, which was unreachable at the time due to the police force blocking all access to it.
While Lam was answering the prosecutor’s questions, the judge interjected almost a dozen times. The judge posed similar questions to the ones asked by the prosecutor, which was in stark contrast to the previous days of the trial, when lawyer Jorge Menezes experienced interjections from the judge, who accused lawyers of repeatedly asking the same questions to the witnesses.
Nevertheless, after further questions from Jorge Menezes, Lam declared that the police force never prevented the demonstration from stopping at the white tent, and the police also never prevented the group from walking along the road leading to the CE residence.
“The police did not mention at all where [we] could not go,” said Lam, who also stated he, along with the rest of the group, obeyed the police request to leave the scene immediately after the police issued a verbal warning.
Another witness, Kam Sut Leng, claimed not to have heard any words spoken by police officers which would indicate that the demonstration could not stop at the white tent.
Lam said that the streets near the CE’s official residence were all clear of vehicles, which had been barred by the police.
On Monday, witnesses from the police force said they had to manage passing vehicles due to the crowds.
The judge asked Kam whether she knew that letters to government officials must be delivered to the relevant government department.
Kam answered by saying that, in her understanding, people could mail a letter to any address. Kam also said, in reply to the lawyers’ questions, that she, as well as other people, are free to leave letters in any mailbox.
The testimonies of all the morning witnesses were in alignment in that they did not hear Sulu Sou or Scott Chiang appealing to other people to join them in going to the CE’s official residence in order to deliver their letters, nor did they think the transportation was jammed.
In her closing speech about the demonstration lingering in front of Pak Wu parking lot, the prosecutor said “even though the Public Prosecutions Office (MP) closed some cases concerning the demonstration, the MP deems that they [Sulu Sou and Scott Chiang] acted provocatively towards the police force and were completely disrespectful towards the verdict of the Court of Final Appeal.”
The prosecutor accused the defendants of not informing the relevant government department in advance of the demonstration changing its route.
She further accused the protestors of gathering at Nam Van Nautical Center, which is considered an illegal assembly, as well as of assembling around the Chief Executive’s official residence.
The prosecutor then said that Sulu Sou and Scott Chiang did not leave the scene after the police issued a verbal warning, emphasizing that “the whole procedure consisted [of] an illegal assembly, which goes against the law.”
“[The behavior of the two suspects] affected other users [of public spaces], and [the suspects] insisted on going up [to the CE’s official residence], even after the police’s [direction not to],” the prosecutor said.
“I suggest [the court hand down] a prison sentence, [because] penalties will not have a deterrent effect,” the prosecutor said, adding that “the police force performed in excellent fashion, [… the police force did a] work worthy of compliment.”
Lawyer Jorge Menezes, in his closing speech, stated that evidence had shown that transportation was not affected due to Sulu Sou and Scott Chiang’s behavior, and that both obeyed the police order to leave the scene.
In many of Jorge Menezes’ statements, he pointed out that it was the police force’s poor decision to put up barricades that led to all the problems.
“Macau is a society ruled by law, not ruled by men. The police force also has to obey the law. […] If the police are regarded as being higher than the city’s residents, then it is wrong because everybody is equal. […] This demonstration and assembly law was not meant to restrict the people, but to protect them, […] to protect people’s rights of demonstration and assembly,” said Jorge Menezes.
“It seems the police force was not cooperative. Their [the police officers’] superior’s order [to command Sulu Sou and Scott Chiang to leave the relevant place] is not legal. [Macau] enforces the rule of law, [but the police force] restricted the public at the first opportunity it got, which was a wrong decision,” the lawyer declared.
In his final statement, lawmaker Sulu Sou noted that communicating with the police force has always been his top priority. However, he said that what had happened “was unfortunate” because it was “avoidable.”
“There is absolutely no personal interest in me participating in social activities. I hope to expand the public’s interests. […] It disappoints me knowing that governmental high officials [are not being held accountable for their responsibilities],” said Sou, adding that he will continue supervising the government.
The verdict has been scheduled for May 29.
concerns about rule of law
AFTER HIS trial, Sulu Sou told the media that “we are worried about [people] not executing their legal and reasonable civil rights.” Sulu Sou remarked he would not comment on the case or the trial. “I am always confident, as long as the court [makes] an independent and fair judgment,” he said, adding that “each side has its own stance and [way of] looking at things. We respect that. The court has the ultimate right to judge.”