Two lawmakers of pro-democracy party People Power have been convicted of organising an unlawful assembly in 2011, with the magistrate slamming one of them, Wong Yuk-man, for being "dishonest and unreliable" and giving questionable testimony.
The other defendant, Albert Chan Wai-yip, may face a fresh charge for insulting the magistrate. The court asked yesterday that he apologise when it issued its sentencing on May 16.
The duo said they would appeal against their convictions. They stand to lose their seats in the Legislative Council if they are jailed for a month or more and two-thirds of the legislators endorse a motion to remove them.
Magistrate Joseph To Ho-shing, sitting in Eastern Court, told Chan he might be charged for suggesting that To had a "political mission" to fulfil.
"It was a serious insult … and you can consider apologising to me next time, or I will advise you to seek help from a lawyer."
Wong and Chan are core members of People Power, which rallied scores of people on July 1, 2011, to continue protesting after an annual march organised by the Civil Human Rights Front.
The contentious rally started after 9.30pm near the Southorn Playground in Wan Chai and was headed for the chief executive's residence at Government House, the court heard earlier.
Scuffles broke out near the Bank of China Tower in Central. Policemen used pepper spray to restrain the crowd, protesters then sat on the road to block traffic. Officers arrested 138 people, including Chan, Wong and their party colleagues Chau Chun-kiu and Raymond Chan Chi-chuen.
Chau and Raymond Chan, now a lawmaker, were acquitted yesterday.
The magistrate ruled that the People Power event was an unlawful rally independent from the front's lawful protest because it differed in the route and time.
Earlier, Wong claimed that when he called for "a march towards the Government House", he was referring only to the symbolic meaning of the place and intended instead to take supporters to the government headquarters - as part of the front's rally. He said he was unaware of police cordons in Central and had asked the protesters to walk arm in arm "to keep them in order".
To said he believed Wong's claims were either lies or illogical, or "made up after the incident for exoneration's sake".
The maximum penalty for organising an unlawful assembly is five years' jail. Offending a magistrate could lead to six months in prison and a HK$10,000 fine.