Hong Kong legal groups condemn insults of protesters to judge

HONG KONG: Hong Kong On Thursday, the Law Society and the Bar Association condemned the abuse of graffiti sprayed by protesters in a court building that insulted a judge by name.

The groups called that `` an affront to the rule of law and judicial integrity '' in the former British colony, which has retained its unique judicial system free from corruption and so common political interference.

The incident occurred on Wednesday during an anti-government march that quickly turned into battles between police and unconditional protesters.

`` Graffiti is outrageous and strongly condemned, '' the joint letter said. `` The abusive comments that imply that judicial decisions were made or influenced by political considerations are totally unjustified. ''

Together with many civic and business groups, the Lawyers Society and the Bar Association had criticized the proposed extradition legislation that triggered the original protests in June. They have been less frank about the increasingly violent protests, except when the city's independent judiciary has been attacked.

Many protesters are driven concerns that China is gradually tightening its control over Hong Kong's institutions, from major businesses, to law enforcement and the media.

The attack on the court building was also condemned by police spokesman Kwok Ka-chuen in an information session on Thursday.

`` In one of the most alarming cases, protesters sprayed offensive words on the outer wall of the Superior Court to insult a judge, '' Kwok told reporters. `` This type of attack will make a dent in the spirit of the law and will threaten the independence of the judiciary. ''

Kwok said police arrested 420 people during New Year's holidays, bringing the total number of people arrested during the protests to around 7,000.

He said charges included illegal assembly, possession of offensive weapons and disorderly conduct in a public place. `` Protester violence has reached a really critical level, '' Kwok said. `` For more than seven months, Hong Kong people have been living under the shadow of violent protests which have extended to almost every neighborhood of the city. ''