Activists appeal against sentence over protest

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 05 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 05 July, 2012, 12:00am


Two activists of the League of Social Democrats yesterday appealed against their convictions and sentence for disorderly behaviour over a rowdy protest in April last year.

Chow Nok-hang, 27, and Wong Hin-wai, 23, challenged their two-week jail terms - handed down in January - for interrupting a speech by former transport chief Eva Cheng to oppose an MTR fare increase.

Chow ran onto a stage to throw a pile of 'hell banknotes' - traditional paper offerings for the dead - at Cheng before Wong grabbed her microphone from its stand.

In the Court of First Instance, lawyers for the two said that the magistrate erred in law in finding their behaviour was likely to provoke a breach of the peace. Barrister Wong Hay-yiu said the trial magistrate did not cover this point in documents given to the High Court for the appeal, suggesting that the magistrate in hindsight realised that this point could not stand.

One element of the charge was that the disorderly acts were 'for the purpose of preventing the transaction of business', the defence noted. But because Cheng was only briefly interrupted and the event was not brought to a complete halt, the element of 'prevention' was not satisfied and the two must be acquitted, they said.

But prosecutor Martin Hui referred to the Shorter Oxford Dictionary as saying that 'prevent' meant 'hinder', 'avoid' and 'stop', and did not necessarily mean a complete termination.

Hui said the pair's behaviour not only interrupted the event but also made people at the scene fear being harmed.

Mrs Justice Judianna Barnes Wai-ling reserved her ruling to a later date, and the two were released on bail.