Warning shot fired as Occupy Central protester re-arrested
Protester’s arrest was political persecution, says Occupy Central organiser but the DPP says the allegations are ‘completely false’
An Occupy Central volunteer re-arrested this year for unauthorised assembly on July 1 two years ago was put on a one-year bond in Eastern Court yesterday.
Trainee solicitor Melody Chan Yuk-fung, 26, will not get a criminal record, but she will be liable to pay HK$2,000 and spend up to six months in prison if she breaks the law in the next 12 months.
Chinese University professor Chan Kin-man, an Occupy Central organiser, described the case as a political prosecution.
But Director of Public Prosecutions Kevin Zervos told the court that allegations of the case being politically motivated were "completely false", and repeated the police explanation that her delayed arrest was due to difficulty in contacting the defendant.
The war of words continued outside court where Chan said that she had taken part in many public events in the past two years, and that the police claim that she had been impossible to contact was "irresponsible and [designed to] to confuse people".
In a rare move, the Department of Justice issued a statement in response, saying that Chan's comment was in contrast to her admittance in court that police had been unable to contact her.
Chan also issued a statement, saying that said she accepted the bind-over because she did not want the case to affect her work.
Chan agreed that she had participated in an occupation of Connaught Road Central on the night of July 1, 2011, obstructing traffic. But she pleaded not guilty to two charges of contravening the Public Order Ordinance and taking part in an unauthorised assembly.
Barrister Ronny Tong Ka-wah said it was rare that a bind-over would come with an imprisonment term, as bind-overs are usually only for petty crimes, but imprisonment is a severe punishment.
"In these one to two years, I have never avoided the police. I was always in and out of public events," said Chan - who worked as a journalist during the period - outside the court yesterday.
"Why is it that at this time they became interested in me again and wanted to arrest me?"
She has been a volunteer in the Occupy Central movement - a plan to rally at least 10,000 protesters to blockade Central district next year to force the government to implement genuine universal suffrage for the 2017 chief executive election.
Chan was originally arrested in the early hours of July 2, 2011, with 92 other demonstrators. Eight of them were taken to court last year; six were fined, two were bound over and the others received a warning from Zervos.
Chan was rearrested on May 8 this year on a footbridge in Central.
The police said they had been trying to locate and prosecute her since January 2012. They said they had called her more than 20 times and had been unable to reach her except on two occasions. They had also paid around 10 visits to addresses connected with her, the court heard.
Zervos said he felt the need to explain the case to the court as it had received publicity, saying: "Difficulty in contacting the defendant resulted in the delay."
The police had also told Chan's family members that they were looking for her and provided police contact details, but she did not contact them.
Chan said that as a member of the public, she had no obligation to answer or return their calls.
Professor Chan said the campaign's work had not been affected by the case, and that more people have been joining it.