Twenty ‘Oc­cupy’ ac­tivists guilty of con­tempt of court

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By HE SHUSI in Hong Kong hes­husi@chi­nadai­

Joshua Wong Chi-fung and Lester Shum Ngo-fai, lead­ing ac­tivists in the 2014 ‘‘Oc­cupy Cen­tral” move­ment, were found guilty of con­tempt of court by the High Court on Fri­day for ob­struct­ing a court-or­dered clear­ance of a key demon­stra­tion site dur­ing the protests.

The court also con­victed 18 other demon­stra­tors.

Ac­cord­ing to Hong Kong law, there is no max­i­mum penalty for con­tempt of court. Pre­sid­ing judge An­drew Chan Hing-wai will hand down the re­spec­tive sen­tences at a later date.

This case marks Wong’s sec­ond ‘Oc­cupy’-re­lated con­vic­tion. In Au­gust, the stu­dent ac­tivist was sen­tenced to an im­me­di­ate six-month prison term along with two other stu­dent ac­tivists — Nathan Law Kwun-chung and Alex Chow Yong-kang — for their role in the vi­o­lent storm­ing into a re­stricted area in front of the Hong Kong gov­ern­ment head­quar­ters, which trig­gered the il­le­gal move­ment in 2014.

Fri­day was Wong’s 21st birth­day. The young ac­tivist, who made his ap­pear­ance at the court­room, could face an ex­ten­sion of his jail term.

Chan gave the ver­dict that the 20 were “in­ter­fer­ing with the ex­e­cu­tion of the in­junc­tion or­der” by bailiff of­fi­cers who had acted on a court or­der sought by taxi and minibus driv­ers to clear an oc­cu­pied road junc­tion in busi­ness dis­trict Mong Kok in Novem­ber, 2014. The ac­tivists re­fused to leave the area de­spite re­peated warn­ings, ac­cord­ing to the writ­ten judg­ment.

The judge ar­gued the pro­test­ers were “well aware” of the in­junc­tion or­der through mas­sive me­dia cov­er­age, pub­lic an­nounce­ments and on-site an­nounce­ments made five times; pro­test­ers were re­peat­edly warned of the pos­si­bil­ity of be­ing ar­rested for sus­pected crim­i­nal con­tempt of court if they wouldn’t leave.

The de­fense ar­gued that the nec­es­sary crim­i­nal in­ten­tion for crim­i­nal con­tempt was the in­ten­tion to in­ter­fere with the ad­min­is­tra­tion of jus­tice, mere pres­ence at the scene only amounted to civil con­tempt, which bares lighter pu­n­ish­ment.

How­ever, the judge re­jected the ar­gu­ments. He said that ac­cord­ing to the le­gal prin­ci­ples of crim­i­nal con­tempt of court, the re­spon­dents needed only to be proved to have the in­ten­tion to re­main in the oc­cu­pied area and this was likely to prej­u­dice or in­ter­fere with the ad­min­is­tra­tion of jus­tice. The judg­ment said this was clearly shown by ev­i­dence pre­sented.

Whether each re­spon­dent did in fact ob­struct or in­ter­fere with those who were re­spon­si­ble for the clear­ance was not part of the le­gal re­quire­ment, ac­cord­ing to the judg­ment.

Pre­vi­ously, Wong and Shum — for­mer sec­re­tary­gen­eral of the Hong Kong Fed­er­a­tion of Stu­dents — and nine oth­ers had pleaded guilty to com­mit­ting con­tempt of court.

The other nine de­fen­dants de­nied the charges. Among them was Raphael Wong Ho-ming, a so­cial ac­tivist and vice-chair­man of the League of So­cial Democrats. He is now serv­ing a sen­tence for un­law­ful as­sem­bly af­ter try­ing to storm into the Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil build­ing dur­ing a protest against a gov­ern­ment new-town de­vel­op­ment plan in 2014.

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