Li Keqiang

Judge agrees rally zone was remote

Comment comes during appeal hearing of protester arrested during vice-premier's visit

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 01 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 01 June, 2013, 3:38am

A High Court judge yesterday criticised a protest zone set up by police as "really far away" from the demonstrators' target - then vice-premier Li Keqiang.

Mr Justice Andrew Chan Hing-wai spoke out during an appeal by one of the protesters who was convicted of resisting arrest as she tried to break through the police barricade during Li's visit in August 2011.

Siu Mun-yee, a 53-year-old Australian national, was bound over to keep the peace for one year on a bond of HK$1,000 in July last year.

Acting senior public prosecutor Andrew Cheng Chi-hang yesterday handed the court a map showing the Grand Hyatt Hong Kong - Li's base during the visit - and the protest zone near Central Plaza.

Chan said: "Frankly, it was really far away."

He also said the no-entry zone set up for the whole of Harbour Road extending towards Wan Chai Sports Ground was too big.

Cheng said the action the police took was in response to Siu's insistence on meeting the vice-premier, rather than submitting a letter to be handed on to him.

"We can all understand that the vice-premier wouldn't have had time to meet her," he said.

Cheng also said Siu had "no reasonable or legitimate purpose" for her actions. But the judge countered: "No? She wanted to meet the vice-premier. You can't say that's an illegal request. She was not trying to injure him."

He also questioned whether Li would have wanted to avoid the protesters. "The new central government leadership has said it would try not to disturb the public on official visits. The higher ranking officials might not necessarily want to set themselves apart from the public."

Douglas Kwok King-hin, representing Siu, said the prosecution had deviated from the norm of summoning the police district commander and submitting the force's operational orders to the court in cases involving protests.

But the judge asked why Kwok, Siu's lawyer during the first hearing, did not then raise the issue. He said it was difficult for him to weigh if the police arrangements were justified.

Kwok said the defence should not have to teach the prosecution what witnesses to call.

The hearing was adjourned until August 12.