Activists admit trespassing at PLA barracks

Fourth accused denies charge and loses bail money for showing up late for second time

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 May, 2014, 4:04am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 20 May, 2014, 4:43pm

Three of the four activists accused of trespassing at the People's Liberation Army barracks in Admiralty on Boxing Day last year pleaded guilty yesterday to entering a closed area without a permit.

Only one defendant, Billy Chiu Hin-chung, 29, pleaded not guilty yesterday, the first day of the scheduled four-day trial at Eastern Court.

Magistrate So Wai-tak postponed sentencing of Dickson Cheung Hon-yin, 40, and Tse Wing-man, 29, to the end of the trial while the case of a 15-year-old - who cannot be named because he is under 16 - is to be transferred to the Juvenile Court. All three are scheduled to return to court on Thursday.

All the defendants originally pleaded not guilty in February on the grounds that they did not know they had entered the barracks because there was no clear sign indicating the boundary, and that even if they had stepped within its boundary, they had the right to do so.

Chiu, whose late arrival at a hearing on Monday last week cost him his HK$500 bail money, showed up late again in court yesterday at 10.30am, an hour after the trial was due to start.

His defence lawyer had been unable to reach him and Chiu's phone service was said to have been cut off.

Explaining his lateness to the judge, unemployed Chiu said he had overslept and his phone service was terminated because he had no money to pay the bill.

"Your lateness has wasted everyone's time and taxpayers' money," said the magistrate, who ruled against Chiu's request for the court not to confiscate his HK$500 bail money.

He was again granted bail on the same conditions but was warned not to arrive late to court again.

Last Monday, Chiu attempted unsuccessfully to halt his trial permanently on the grounds it was politically motivated.

The prosecution and defence spent most of yesterday afternoon discussing whether a video clip - taken by reporters of the Chinese-language Apple Daily newspaper - was admissible.

Duty lawyer Jasper Kwan Hang-fan, who represented Chiu, said he was worried that prosecution witnesses would not solely rely on what they remembered when making their testimony if they were allowed to view the video clip beforehand.

But the prosecution said the clip was the best available objective evidence to ascertain the identities of those involved.

The trial continues today.