Hong Kong Occupy activist loses appeal against conviction for obstructing police officers
Judge finds conduct of activist, who was removed from pavement close to main protest site, ‘undoubtedly’ made it harder for officers to perform their duties
An activist who was fined for obstructing police officers during the 2014 Occupy movement in Hong Kong lost her bid on Wednesday to challenge her conviction after a High Court judge found that her conduct at the time had “undoubtedly” made the execution of police duties more difficult.
Julie Li Sin-chi, who was slapped with a HK$2,500 fine in August 2015 following the conviction, said on Wednesday that she would consider pursuing her case at a higher court.
On October 15, 2014, Li was sitting alone on a pavement near the junction of Lung Wo Road and Tim Wa Avenue enclosed by metres of metal fencing. She was later lifted and taken away by policewomen from the site, and did not struggle during the process.
In an appeal against her conviction for obstructing police, Li, an office executive, dismissed her arrest more than two years ago as a violation of her right to peaceful assembly.
She appealed on the grounds that a lower court had erred in its finding that the two policewomen who took her away from the pavement were carrying out their mission properly.
Li also argued that the lower court had erred in finding her to have been intending to obstruct police officers on a mission.
In a ruling on Wednesday, Mrs Justice Judianna Barnes Wai-ling rejected Li’s argument that the officers had not been authorised to clear the pavement near the main protest site.
“Given the circumstances, police were required to clear the sites, including the road and the pavement, lest people gather on the pavement and make trouble,” the judge stated.
“The measures put in place by police were reasonable,” she added.
The judge also found it “impossible” that Li could not hear the police warnings broadcast over loudspeakers. “It was reasonable that police believed [Li] was taking part in an unlawful assembly and removed her,” Barnes said.
The judge thus found the police action necessary and proportionate, even though Li was exercising her right to peaceful assembly at the time.
She ruled that the conviction was safe and dismissed Li’s appeal.
After the ruling, Li and her supporters, including lawmaker “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung, blamed the government for violating Hongkongers’ right to peaceful assembly in this case.