Seven pro-democracy figures – including media tycoon Jimmy Lai and “father of democracy” Martin Lee – have been found guilty of organising and knowingly taking part in an unauthorised assembly.
They were among nine high profile activists who were accused of organising and taking part in the assembly against perceived abuses of police power in August 2019. Thousands of demonstrators gathered in Victoria Park in Causeway Bay and marched peacefully to Chater Road in Central.
Lai and Lee attended West Kowloon Magistrates’ Court on Thursday alongside veteran activist Lee Cheuk-yan, former Democratic Party chair Albert Ho, barrister Margaret Ng, activist “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung and ex-legislator Cyd Ho. All denied the charges.
Judge Amanda Jane Woodcock rejected the defence’s case who argued that the offences and their criminal sanctions “were too severe to be proportional and constitutional.”
Woodcock ruled that “[u]nless the defendants are suggesting that the decision to prosecute was an abuse of the court’s process then it is not the function of the court to decide whether that decision per se is disproportionate.”
Before the hearing resumed for the judge to hear mitigation from the defence, Leung Kwok-hung chanted “Shameful political prosecution,” “Hongkongers hang in there” and “Five demands, not one less.”
The group face up to five years in prison.
Supporters attend court
The judiciary reserved 18 seats for the defendants’ family and 145 tickets for the public to attend the hearing. Among those who came to support the defendants were Figo Chan of the Civil Human Rights Front, Rafael Wong and Avery Ng of the League of Social Democrats, Leung Kwok-hung’s wife and activist Andy Chan.
Outside court, a representative from the pro-Beijing group Politihk Social Strategic called for a “life sentence” for media tycoon Lai, saying he was “definitely a traitor.”
Chan Po-ying – wife of activist Leung Kwok-hung told HKFP that the verdict was “expected.”
“We are obviously most concerned about the national security case. But he still has other [protest-related] cases which will be heard by the same judge, so we are not very optimistic about those cases.”
Leung has been detained since early March pending trial over “subversion” under the national security law.
In February, ex-lawmaker Au Nok-hin pleaded guilty to both unauthorised assembly charges in February, while Leung Yiu-chung admitted to knowingly taking part in an unauthorised assembly.
Au was said to have “formed the head” of the march, along with other suspects, and was accused of leading people to Central via a route that was opposed by police.
Both are awaiting sentencing.
Additional reporting: Kelly Ho. More to follow.