Supporters pack court in radio freedom call

PUBLISHED : Friday, 16 January, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 16 January, 2009, 12:00am

Szeto Wah, other radio activists and their supporters demanded the freedom to broadcast yesterday, calling court proceedings a farce in long orations at Eastern Court.

A fair turnout of current and former legislators, public faces and radio personalities made for proceedings rarely seen in a Hong Kong court. The magistrate even offered Szeto a chair.

The court was full, attended by Tsang Kin-shing, convenor of outlawed Citizen's Radio, broadcaster Peter Lam Yuk-wah, RTHK unionist Mak Chi-hang, lawmakers Emily Lau Wai-hing and 'Long Hair' Leung Kwok-hung, and dozens of their supporters. Twenty-one people - including Szeto, Tsang, Lam, Mak, Leung and Lau - are accused of multiple counts of broadcasting without a licence and using an apparatus for broadcasting.

At the request of defence lawyers, the magistrates adjourned their cases to April 15 for mention - pending a decision on an appeal lodged by the defendants over similar illegal-broadcasting offences.

The Court of Appeal last month overturned a magistrate's dismissal of those charges. They are appealing against that decision in the Court of Final Appeal. However, the group protested against the adjournment.

The group gathered in the morning, before the court session opened, to chant slogans and call for the government to stop barring their freedom to broadcast.

Leung treated Magistrate Douglas Yau Tak-hong to a five-minute monologue on how the government should do 'something good', opening his speech with: 'If a man has a chance to do something good in his life, he should do something good, or else he might lose that chance to do something good.'

During the session, Mr Yau offered Szeto a chair, a privilege rarely seen by defendants, saying: 'This is not favouritism. It is simply respect for our seniors.'




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