Police show Occupy founders evidence that may be used against them
The three co-founders of Occupy Central got a glimpse of the authorities' case against them yesterday as they were shown video clips and articles they wrote, which police say are proof they "incited" people to take part in the pro-democracy mass sit-in.
Benny Tai Yiu-ting, 50, Dr Chan Kin-man, 55, and the Reverend Chu Yiu-ming, 71, were arrested when they went to police headquarters to assist the investigation. They were released after three hours of interrogation, refusing to be bound by bail.
No charges were laid against them and police reserved the right to prosecute.
The trio are among the 30 activists, including students and politicians, who have been arrested so far for their roles in the pro-democracy sit-ins that paralysed several major roads in the city for 79 days.
Police Commissioner Andy Tsang Wai-hung said the force was aiming to complete its investigation in three months and that more arrests would be made.
Tai, asked if he was worried about a politically motivated prosecution, said: "I have faith in Hong Kong's rule of law.
"If we break the law we are willing to bear the legal consequences, but if we did not do so, we do not worry."
Last month when they turned themselves in, the trio admitted to "taking part" in a September rally, but not to other alleged offences. They remained silent throughout yesterday.
Apart from allegedly inciting others to take part in an unauthorised assembly, the trio were also arrested on suspicion of organising and convening the assembly as well as taking part in it.
They were shown 48 videos featuring themselves in the protests. Tai's landmark article that floated the idea of Occupy Central for the first time, published in the Hong Kong Economic Journal in January 2013, was presented to him as evidence.
Law Society president and criminal lawyer Stephen Hung Wan-shun, who is not part of the trio's defence team, said that if charges were laid, prosecutors would have to opt for either the incitement or the organising charge, but not both.
The maximum penalty for organising an unauthorised assembly is five years in jail.
He added that as a matter of principle, the incitement charge could lead to a penalty no more serious than organising.
According to research papers of the Legislative Council on incitement, which cited various judgments, an inciter is "one who reaches and seeks to influence the mind of another to the commission of a crime".
Pan-democratic lawmaker Gary Fan Kwok-wai was also arrested yesterday for organising, convening and taking part in an unauthorised assembly.