POLITICS

Democracy protesters arrested at Chater Road sit-in will refuse to renew their bail

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 30 July, 2014, 1:46pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 31 July, 2014, 4:58am
 

Eighteen people arrested during a sit-in on Chater Road on July 2 - including a lawmaker - will refuse to renew their bail today and tomorrow.

They are calling on police to prosecute them or let them go.

"We will refuse to renew bail as we believe our act on July 2 was civil disobedience," Federation of Students secretary general Alex Chow Yong-kang said at a press conference yesterday. "If police have enough evidence, either they should prosecute us now or release us unconditionally. We are ready to admit our guilt and accept the relevant penalty."

Others refusing bail include Labour Party lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan and two Democratic Party district councillors.

The overnight protest, billed as a "rehearsal" for Occupy Central's planned blocking of the business district, followed the July 1 pro-democracy march.

Chow was one of 511 people arrested for taking part and organising an unlawful assembly, at which they called for genuine universal suffrage for the 2017 chief executive election.

Of those arrested, 25 were released on bail - with 18 now refusing to renew it. They are due to report to police today and tomorrow. The rest received warnings.

Chow said he believed police would constrain their ability to protest using the report-back system, which requires bailed protesters to visit police stations at regular intervals.

This would hamper them in taking part in another wave of civil disobedience planned by the federation late next month if, as expected, Beijing rules out public nomination of candidates for the chief executive election.

Police said yesterday they would "act in accordance with the law" should those arrested refuse to continue bail. Under the law, police only have the power to grant bail on recognisance or for cash, and have no power to attach other conditions to bail. If an arrested person does not agree to recognisance, the police cannot detain the person.

Lawmaker Leung Yiu-chung, of the Neighbourhood and Workers Service Centre, who is due to report back on Friday, said he would not refuse bail. "I have talked to lawyers and I don't think refusal to renew bail will make a real difference. Police can always make a new arrest even after they release you unconditionally."

Meanwhile, a new group, the Alliance in Support of Our Police Force, will stage a rally in Chater Garden on Sunday to support police officers amid criticism of their strict law enforcement tactics against protesters. Convenor Leticia Lee See-yin, also a member of an anti-Occupy Central group, said the alliance had over 20,000 members. It is applying to register August 4 as an annual day of support for the police.

Separately, Occupy's Dr Chan Kin-man in a Facebook post yesterday said co-organiser Benny Tai Yiu-ting had been sent a razor blade in the mail, but had decided not to report the case to police.

 

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