Five who disrupted forum convicted
Lawmaker 'Long Hair' Leung Kwok-hung and four other activists will be sentenced today after being convicted of disrupting a public consultation forum on a proposal to scrap Legislative Council by-elections.
Leung, 55, of the League of Social Democrats, was convicted yesterday after a trial in Kowloon City Court, along with radio host and newspaper columnist Wong Yeung-tat, 32, mechanic Yung Wai-tong, 59, and students Tang Kin-wa and Chan Sin-ying, both 22. They had pleaded not guilty to charges of criminal damage, acting in a disorderly manner at a public gathering and behaving in a disorderly manner in a public place.
A jail term of one month or more would put Leung's membership of Legco in jeopardy. The magistrate has the power to jail him for up to two years, although the two counts of criminal damage can attract a maximum sentence of 10 years.
Prosecutors said the forum at the Science Museum in Tsim Sha Tsui in September was delayed by half an hour. Two people who had attended it said they had feared for their safety. A speaker was interrupted.
Freely Cheng Kei, principal assistant secretary in the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau, told the court earlier of a 'very chaotic' scene. He described how a man wearing a Guy Fawkes mask stood at the stand intended for the speaker.
Prosecutors say Leung and his co-defendants caused an estimated HK$4,500 of damage to a glass door and plants.
The forum was one of two the government held to consult the public on the proposal, which it introduced after Leung and other pan-democrat lawmakers resigned in January 2010 to force what they called a de facto referendum on universal suffrage.
In mitigation, Linda Wong Shui-hung, representing the students, said the topic of the discussion was highly divisive. Since only two forums had been organised, her clients had wanted to express their opinions.
But Magistrate Peter Law Tak-chuen said the defendants' actions had reduced the time available for opinions to be expressed.
Leung said he felt he had a duty to attend the forum to speak for those who felt strongly about the issue, as he had played a part in triggering the by-elections.
The five activists were released pending sentencing.
Speaking after the verdict, Avery Ng Man-yuen, the league's vice-chairman for internal affairs, said his group was 'very disappointed'.
The hearing was delayed for 45 minutes as tensions rose between league supporters and members of the online group Caring Hong Kong Power, who were demanding support for law enforcement. Police arrived to ease the tensions.
A lawmaker can be disqualified if jailed for one month or more and relieved of duties by a motion passed by a two-thirds majority in Legco.