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article imageFormer Hong Kong leader appears in court over sandwich 'attack'

By AFP     Oct 4, 2017 in World

Unpopular former Hong Kong leader Leung Chun-ying testified Wednesday in a case involving a sandwich thrown at him by a pro-democracy activist.

The sandwich was aimed at Leung, the city's then leader, as he was on his way to vote in the September 2016 legislative election -- but it missed and hit a police officer.

In court, a stern-looking Leung occasionally smiled as he was questioned by Defendant Avery Ng, who is accused of common assault and was representing himself in a hearing attended by his supporters.

Leung held office from 2012 until July this year and his opponents have slammed him as a hardline and divisive leader overseeing the erosion of Hong Kong's freedoms.

The trial follows the recent arrests of prominent pro-democracy activists, including a former lawmaker, that have renewed anti-China sentiment in the semi-autonomous region.

Ng said the "smelly fish sandwich" -- a flavour he disliked and specifically bought for Leung -- was a protest prop to illustrate the pro-democracy camp's demand for a universal retirement protection plan.

Ng, chairman of campaign group the League of Social Democrats, told the court Wednesday he had intended to hand the sandwich to Leung and voice his objections to the city's treatment of the poor and the elderly.

"(The sandwich) was to show that many poor people in Hong Kong, especially the elderly, may not even be able to afford a sandwich for breakfast," he said.

Ng said he was blocked and gripped by a few police officers and so was unable to approach Leung.

After assessing Leung's "smug" expression that implied a "bring it on" attitude, Ng decided to throw the sandwich at him, expecting him to catch it, he said.

Footage of the incident captured by local news network i-Cable was played in court and showed the back of Leung, who was seen ducking smoothly when the sandwich was thrown.

- 'Like a parody' -

Leung, summoned to court Wednesday as a defence witness on the second day of the trial, said he could not remember his facial expressions when he noticed an unidentified object hurtling towards him and also did not recall seeing Ng.

The former leader said he thought he was under attack and instinctively ducked, adding he felt "panic" at the time, following an incident in 2014 where an anti-China lawmaker threw a glass at Leung in parliament.

The glass did not hit him, smashing on the floor nearby, but the lawmaker was later convicted of assault and jailed for two weeks.

Referring to the sandwich incident, Leung said: "It was a Sunday morning, when the streets are relatively quiet. Then I heard protest sounds and suddenly something flew before my eyes."

"What was that if not an assault?" he added.

Ng, who denied one count of common assault the previous day, could face jail if found guilty.

The police officer on which the sandwich landed told the court Tuesday the "wet and soft" item came apart and parts of it hit his chest after he blocked it, leaving brown stains.

Some netizens found the subject of the trial amusing while others thought the seemingly trivial nature of it telling.

"This is like a parody," a Facebook user named Johnny So wrote Wednesday.

"When even a sandwich can be incriminating, the target must be a corrupt official," commented another Facebook user named Yurick Koizumi.

More about Hongkong, Politics, Protest, Sandwich, Assault
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