Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma conceded on Monday that a judge who described a knifeman who stabbed three people at a pro-democracy Lennon Wall as a "victim" could have compromised the public's confidence in the independence and impartiality of the judiciary.
Ma said he had spoken to District Court judge Kwok Wai-kin over the comments Kwok made in a judgement on April 24 as Kwok jailed the attacker, Tony Hung, for 45 months.
Kwok had expressed sympathy for the tour guide, who used a large knife to attack a man and two women in Tseung Kwan O last August, saying Hung's income had been badly affected by protesters who had been "behaving like terrorists".
In a statement, Ma said judges must refrain from unnecessarily expressing any views on matters that are controversial or may come before the courts, particularly their political opinions.
"Judges have a responsibility under the Basic Law, owed to the community, to exercise independent judicial power by adjudicating on cases fairly and impartially, without fear or favour," he noted.
Ma said he had told Kwok that there was a risk that some people may have perceived the April 24 comments to be biased, and that Kwok had agreed with him.
"The reasons for sentence referred to earlier have caused controversy in that there is a risk that some reasonable, fair‑minded and well‑informed persons could reasonably take the view that the aforesaid principles may have been compromised in that a wrong perception was given," Ma said.
The statement said that Ma agreed with the decision of the chief district judge that Kwok should not deal with any cases involving a similar political context for the time being.
Chief justice warns judge over protest remarks
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