A Nepali woman whose husband was shot dead by a Hong Kong policeman in 2009 has failed in her appeal to quash a coroner's jury finding that her husband was "lawfully killed".
High Court Justice Anselmo Reyes dismissed Friday the judicial review that Sony Rai, the widow of Dil Bahadur Limbu, demanded on Jan 12.
Philip Dykes, senior counsel for Rai, argued the inquest was too narrow in its scope and it was biased. The petition blamed Coroner William Ng Sing-wai, saying he had misdirected the jury and improperly allowed police to keep rules of engagement training manuals confidential.
Justice Reyes rebutted the criticism, saying the coroner was correct in his judgments in what to include and what to exclude during the hearing.
He said that the coroner was only carrying out his duty "to keep all aspects of the inquest in proportion, especially in terms of time and cost".
"He (the coroner) carefully carried out a balancing exercise and found that the peripheral relevance of the documents sought did not outweigh the public interest against disclosure," Justice Reyes said.
Rai's petition also claimed the coroner erred by omitting "unlawful killing by murder" as a possible finding for the jury to consider.
Justice Reyes said he was not convinced by the petition.
The jury, after concluding in May 2010 that the shooting was a lawful killing, issued no recommendations for preventing similar deaths, which, according to Justice Reyes, "implies that the jury did not believe that any systemic defect in Hui's (the policeman) training had led to Limbu's death".
"The jury had the option of returning an open verdict where it genuinely could not decide if the killing was lawful or unlawful. But the jury did not take that option," he said.
Limbu's wife voiced her disappointment and frustration through Fermi Wong Wai-fun, executive director of Hong Kong Unison, an NGO which assists ethnic minorities to attain equal access to all rights.
Wong said Rai will study the content of the judgment with her lawyer before making a decision on whether to appeal.
Rai has resided in Hong Kong with her daughter since the incident but her visa will expire in March. She is unsure if she will stay in the city, saying that depends on whether she will decide to appeal.
Limbu was gunned down by police constable Hui Ka-ki on a hillside in Ho Man Tin on March 17, 2009.
Hui testified at the inquest that he feared his life was in danger when he fired the fatal round.
Hui claimed that Limbu attacked him with a chair leg when asked to show his identity card. After shouting warnings in Cantonese and failing to subdue the 30-year-old street sleeper with his batton and pepper spray, Hui fired two shots. The second round struck Limbu in the head, killing him. It was never clarified whether Limbu understood Hui's warnings.
(HK Edition 01/22/2011 page1)