According to Macau Post Daily, the court made the decision in response to a request by the Legislative Assembly (AL) to postpone the trial – as the legislature said it was unable to arrange a plenary session before the initially-scheduled November 28 trial date to decide whether Sou should be suspended so that he can be put on trial for the alleged crime.
The statement said that the court would decide on the new date of Sou’s trial only if the legislature votes to suspend him.
Legislative Assembly (AL) President Ho Iat Seng said in a statement last Monday that the House Rules Committee would study and announce its opinions and decision by today on a request by the court to suspend Sou from the legislature so that he can stand trial for the alleged crime. The trial was initially scheduled to begin on November 28, according to the statement.
Sou’s suspension would allow the trial to go ahead.
Ho’s statement said that the legislature received the court’s request on November 7.
Prosecution of offences allegedly committed by a lawmaker that are punishable by less than three years must be authorised by the legislature, according to the Legislative Assembly Lawmakers Statute. Prosecution of alleged crimes punishable by three or more years does not require the legislature’s green light.
According to the statute, after the House Rules Committee has given its opinion on the issue, it would then have to be discussed and submitted to vote by a plenary session, to decide whether Sou should be suspended for the trial to go ahead.
According to Article 312 of the Macau Penal Code, aggravated disobedience is punishable by up to two years behind bars.
Ho told reporters last Tuesday that he had sent a request to the court to postpone the trial until next month, as it would be impossible to arrange a plenary session about the matter until then because the legislature has already a fully scheduled agenda for plenary sessions every day before the initially-scheduled November 28 trial date.
According to Ho, Sou will be suspended if more than half of the legislature’s 33 members vote for his suspension in a plenary session on the matter.
According to the statute on legislators, the suspension of a lawmaker means that he or she is temporarily prevented from carrying out his or her duties.
Sou and fellow activist Scott Chiang Meng Hin stand accused of aggravated disobedience in the wake of a demonstration last year against the public Macau Foundation’s decision to donate 100 million yuan (MOP122 million) to Jinan University in Guangzhou.