HONG KONG • Unpopular former Hong Kong leader Leung Chun Ying testified yesterday in a case involving a sandwich thrown at him by a pro-democracy activist.
The sandwich was aimed at Mr Leung, who was then the city's leader, as he was on his way to vote in the September legislative election last year - but it missed and hit a police officer instead.
In court, a stern-looking Mr Leung smiled occasionally 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.
Mr 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 bought just for Mr Leung - was a protest prop to illustrate the pro-democracy camp's demand for a universal retirement protection plan. The activist, who is chairman of campaign group the League of Social Democrats, told the court yesterday that he had intended to hand the sandwich to Mr Leung and voice his objections to the city's treatment of the poor and the elderly.
He said: "(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."
Ng said the "smelly fish sandwich"... was a protest prop... After assessing Mr Leung's "smug" expression that implied a "bring it on" attitude, Ng decided to throw the sandwich at him, expecting him to catch it.
Ng added that he was blocked and held by a few police officers and so was unable to approach Mr Leung. After assessing Mr 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.
Mr Leung, summoned as a defence witness on the second day of the trial, 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?"
Ng, who had denied one count of common assault the previous day, could face jail if found guilty.
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 yesterday.
"When even a sandwich can be incriminating, the target must be a corrupt official," commented another Facebook user named Yurick Koizumi.