Activist guilty of tearing off officer's epaulette
An activist who ripped an epaulette off a policeman's uniform during a protest against the high-speed railway link to Guangzhou in January was found guilty yesterday of criminal damage.
Radio host Yang Kuang, 43, was convicted of one count of criminal damage at Eastern Court. He had pleaded not guilty and was convicted after a trial. The incident occurred on January 15 outside the Legislative Council building during a protest against the high-speed rail line.
Magistrate Gary Lam Kar-yan said he found the police officers who had testified at trial to be honest and reliable witnesses.
'Freedom of expression is important, but police should also be protected,' the magistrate said.
The court earlier heard that, at the junction of Jackson Road and Chater Road, Yang had clashed with policeman Sze Yu-leong while Legco was discussing funding for the high-speed rail line.
Sze said he was part of a human chain, formed by 40 officers holding hands, to prevent the protesters from rushing towards the Legco building.
Sze said he had warned Yang not to move forward. However, the activist ignored the warning and continued moving towards the line of officers. Then Yang clutched Sze's left epaulette and kept pulling. Eventually, it came off. The epaulette had a value of HK$41, the court heard.
The magistrate said that if Yang had been dissatisfied with arrangements for the protest, he could have complained through a variety of avenues. If he wanted to see Sze's badge number, he did not have to make physical contact with the officer's shoulder, the magistrate added. Instead, he could have observed Sze or asked him for his badge number.
Prosecutor Robert Lee Kan-yung said Yang had a previous conviction for assaulting a policeman and pulling off an epaulette. That incident occurred on June 9, 2010 the court heard. Yang was jailed for 14 days for that offence.
Yang works part-time as an air conditioner repairman, but spends most of his time as a host on Green Radio, which has programmes on current affairs, defence council Randy Shek said. Yang has a wife and two children. Supporters accompanied him to court yesterday.
The magistrate adjourned Yang's sentencing to June 14 and ordered a community service report.
Yang was released on bail.