China / HK Macao Taiwan

HK judge warns against trial outbursts

By Timothy Chui in Hong Kong (China Daily) Updated: 2015-07-18 08:06

A Hong Kong judge sharply warned opposition activists that courtrooms are not an appropriate place to make political commentaries, as key organizers of last year's occupation campaign face charges.

"Here is not a platform for you to express your views on politics," Eastern Court Principal Magistrate Bina Chainrai told a packed courtroom on Friday. The accused should show respect for the courts, the judge added.

Chainrai snapped back after two outbursts by activist Raphael Wong when he was asked whether he pleaded guilty to the charges. Wong shouted: "Not guilty of burning the white paper."

"White paper" was a reference to a document titled The Practice of the One Country, Two Systems Policy in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, which was published by the Information Office of the State Council in June last year.

Wong, along with People Power lawmaker Albert Chan, student occupation leader Joshua Wong and Hong Kong Federation of Students Secretary-General Nathan Law, appeared in court to answer charges in connection with a 20-person protest outside the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in Hong Kong in June last year.

They burned a copy of the white paper outside the liaison office during the protest. The four, who were recently accused of interfering with police operations, pleaded not guilty at their first appearance in court.

Joshua Wong faces two counts of obstructing an officer, while Law has been charged with a single count.

Raphael Wong and Chan burned another copy of the white paper on the steps of the court just before their hearing.

The paper affirmed principles of the One Country, Two Systems policy underpinning constitutional reforms. The reform package, which would allow the full electorate to choose the city's next chief executive by universal suffrage, was vetoed by the city's opposition lawmakers in June.

The case against the protesters remains in the pretrial phase and has been adjourned to August 28, with the four defendants released on bail of HK$500 ($64.50). The prosecution is expected to call eight witnesses and will also rely on video footage to prove its case.

Activists occupied roads from Sept 26 to Dec 15, after prominent opposition figures and lawmakers encouraged students to clog key thoroughfares, snarling traffic and disrupting both commerce and classes while straining government operations.

The courts have been dealing with the legal fallout from the occupation for months, deliberating on cases involving pro-occupation and anti-occupation protesters alike.

On Friday, a couple were sentenced to one year probation for harassment after they made a barrage of anonymous calls to a police superintendent who was filmed at the protests.

An elderly man who was found guilty of jabbing a protester in the neck was sentenced to seven days in jail on Thursday, while on Monday four protesters ages 18 to 24 were found guilty of breaking the glass facade of the city's legislature building and ordered to perform 150 hours of community service.

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