Desecrating the Hong Kong flag does not promote democracy, judge rules

PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 14 June, 2013, 10:00am

There is no rational connection between desecration of a Hong Kong flag and political messages that activists seek to convey, a magistrate said yesterday.

Eastern Magistrate Joseph To Ho-shing said that yesterday before finding Koo Sze-yiu and Ma Wan-ki guilty of attempting to desecrate the regional flag.

"The defence has failed to provide evidence to establish the connection between the desecration of the regional flag and the promotion of democracy and human rights," To said.

The flag symbolised Hong Kong as an inseparable part of China "on the stroke of midnight on July 1, 1997".

The magistrate also rejected the pair's claims that the Regional Flag and Regional Emblem Ordinance was unconstitutional.

The charges arose from a protest outside the central government liaison office in Western on April 1 last year.

The pair, who are in custody, will be sentenced on June 27.

League of Social Democrats chairman Leung Kwok-hung said he would ask Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma Tao-li not to put political and human rights trials before To again.

Journalists' groups meanwhile criticised the court's action in requiring TVB deputy news editor Ho Wing-hong to confirm a tape he filmed of the incident.

The Journalists Association said such situations could cause reporters to be "conceived as the police's prosecution tool", which might deter people from being interviewed. Journalism Educators for Press Freedom said the requirement was "unusual, unnecessary and unjustified".

A police spokesman said the force respected press freedom and had adopted a "fair, just and impartial" approach in the investigation and prosecution.