The Court of First Instance (TJB) has scheduled the start of the trial of directly-elected lawmaker Sulu Sou Ka Hou for alleged aggravated disobedience for January 9, the Court of Final Appeal (TUI) said in a statement Tuesday.
The statement said that as Sou was suspended from the Legislative Assembly (AL) on Monday last week, it would allow Sou’s trial to go ahead.
It is the first suspension of a lawmaker since the establishment of the Macau Special Administrative Region (MSAR) in December 1999.
Considering that the winter recess of the city’s courts is coming soon, the Court of First Instance has decided that the trial be scheduled to begin at 9:45 a.m. on January 9, the statement said.
The legislature said in a statement on November 13 that the Court of First Instance had requested the legislature to make a decision on whether Sou was to be suspended as a lawmaker so that he could stand trial for the alleged crime.
Prosecution of offences allegedly committed by a lawmaker that are punishable by less than three years must be authorised by the legislature.
According to Article 312 of the Macau Penal Code, aggravated disobedience is punishable by a fine or up to two years behind bars.
During a plenary session of the 33-member legislature on Monday last week, 28 lawmakers voted for Sou’s suspension while four legislators voted against. The vote was carried out by secret ballot.
The Court of First Instance said in a statement on November 19 that it had decided to reschedule the initially-proposed November 28 trial, in response to a request by the Legislative Assembly (AL) – as the legislature said it was unable to arrange a plenary session before the initially-scheduled trial date to decide whether the rookie lawmaker should be suspended.
Sou and fellow activist Scott Chiang Meng Hin stand accused of aggravated disobedience in the wake of a demonstration in May last year.
The crime of aggravated disobedience was allegedly committed by the duo outside the official residence of Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai On in a verbal confrontation with the police.
According to the Legislative Assembly Lawmakers Statute, if Sou is sentenced to a prison term of over 30 days, his fellow legislators would have to hold another plenary session to decide whether to expel him from the legislature, in which case a by-election would have to be held.
Most of defendants in previous aggravated disobedience trials have been fined.