Lawyers for Hong Kong radical fighting obstruction charge rest hopes on freedom of expression

‘Long Hair’ Leung Kwok-hung will go on trial for storming school debating competition

PUBLISHED : Monday, 22 August, 2016, 9:57pm
UPDATED : Monday, 22 August, 2016, 10:37pm

Lawyers for Legco veteran “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung, who faces trial for storming a school debating competition, hope to clarify the boundaries of freedom of expression during the proceedings.

In Eastern Court on Monday his counsel Douglas Kwok King-hin demanded prosecutors define four key words in the charge against his client – obstruct, disturb, interrupt and annoy.

Leung, 60, of the League of Social Democrats and his co-defendant Tam Tak-chi from People Power had each pleaded not guilty to one charge of obstruction.

The pair, along with unnamed individuals, are said to have wilfully obstructed, disturbed, interrupted or annoyed other persons who were lawfully using Queen Elizabeth Stadium in Causeway Bay during the 30th Sing Tao Inter-School Debating Competition on May 15 last year.

Kwok argued there was a need to specify in detail each part of the allegation and those who had been affected by such behaviour.

“Is freedom of expression based on there being no one disturbed?” he asked. “We hope this trial will help clarify the boundaries of freedom of expression, to let the public understand the regulation’s limits.”

The alleged offences were contrary to the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance’s Civic Centres Regulation.

Kwok also questioned how many people would have to be affected for it to count as an offence.

The court heard that prosecutors are expected to call 23 witnesses, including former Bar Association chairman Paul Shieh Wing-tai and then-Director of Information Services Patrick Nip Tak-kuen, who were adjudicating the competition.

The list also includes photographers, Sing Tao staff and Leisure and Cultural Services Department managers.

But prosecutor Derek Lau said they would not call Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor because there was no evidence to show that she was affected by the protest although she had been present.

Prosecutors will be filing their opening statement two weeks ahead of the five-day trial opening on October 5, as required by magistrate David Chum Yau-fong, to help clarify their case.

Leung and Tam are respectively vying for seats in New Territories East and Kowloon East in next month’s Legislative Council elections.