Suspended jail terms for leaders of North Point anti-police rally
Two activists behind unauthorised anti-police protest after last year's June 4 rally sentenced
Two of eight activists convicted of unlawful assembly after last year's June 4 vigil were sentenced yesterday to four weeks in jail, suspended for a year, for their leading roles in the rally.
The sentences - handed down by a magistrate who said the "imperious" and "irrational" activists had placed themselves above the law - were seen as ominous by one defendant.
Joseph To Ho-shing in Eastern Court told Bobo Yip Po-lam, 32, and her fiancée, Icarus Wong Ho-yin, 28, they received a heavier sentence than six others for initiating the rally and urging protesters to charge a police cordon.
More than 40 activists and defendants' family members filled the court yesterday. Some had to sit on the floor.
In addition to the suspended sentence, Yip was fined HK$3,000 and Wong HK$2,400.
Six others - Chu Hoi-dick, Chu Kong-wai, Lee Sai-hung, Kitty Hung Hiu-han, Alan Ming Wai-tim and Chan Ping-fung, aged 23 to 53 - were fined from HK$800 to HK$2,400.
All had earlier been convicted of unlawful assembly and some also of assisting, or taking part in, an unauthorised assembly.
To said the activists had placed themselves above the law, the court and international human rights organisations.
"The defendants think they can overtop the law. They broke the law first, then ignored police orders, and then charged a police cordon. Finally they condemned the police," he said.
The charges were laid after more than 150 people marched from Victoria Park to North Point police station on June 4 last year, after the annual candlelight vigil commemorating the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown.
They were protesting against the arrest of 113 people at a demonstration in March against the government's budget.
Clashes broke out after they were stopped at King's Road and Tin Chong Street.
The marchers did not obtain a notice of no objection from the police, a document required for a demonstration, but told the police verbally about their protest. Fifty-three were arrested.
Reports presented to the court yesterday showed the defendants were not suitable for probation or community service, as they said they would still take part in protests and could not promise not to offend again, the court heard.
The activists have condemned the charges as an attack on freedom of assembly, but To said the sentences would not impede anyone from exercising their freedom to demonstrate, as long as it was done lawfully.
Outside court, Wong said all the activists would appeal because they thought the controversial Public Order Ordinance used to prosecute them was outdated and denied their rights.
"We can see the prosecution is picking on the organisers. This is worrying. But as organisers, we can't be afraid."