Hong Kong activists who stormed Legco over New Territories land plan see convictions upheld
High Court judge rules use of violence in 2014 protest was unacceptable
The High Court has upheld the conviction of five activists who stormed the Legislative Council complex about two years ago protesting the government’s northeastern New Territories development plans after finding their use of violence to be unacceptable.
In a judgment handed down on Wednesday, Mr Justice Albert Wong Sung-hau warned that tolerating violence lacking a well-defined cause could lead to anarchy.
Leung Hiu-yeung, Raphael Wong Ho-ming, Lau Kwok-leung, Chu Wai-chung and Chan Pak-shan were among a group of 15 who took part in an unlawful assembly on June 13, 2014, and barged into the Legco building in Admiralty to protest against the controversial development plans.
The protest turned violent after lawmakers inside the chamber had approved preliminary funding for the development.
The five, who were sentenced to community service in February, previously lodged an appeal against their convictions on the grounds they were denied the “institutional right” to enter and stay in the legislature.
They also questioned whether the Legco Commission, tasked with supervising operation of the Legco Secretariat, had encroached on the legislature’s authority that day by calling police in without consulting lawmakers.
But Albert Wong wrote in his judgment that citizens’ institutional right was not without limits.
He also ruled that police in this case were exercising their powers in accordance with the law.
“That was overreaction,” the judge said of the activists’ suggestion that the policemen were not subject to the court’s jurisdiction.
He said there was evidence of the group’s intent to forcibly enter the complex, adding that use of violence should not be encouraged.
The judge took note of the government’s argument that members of the public could not take the law into their own hands simply because they thought there was injustice.
“A casual suggestion that tyranny looms could be reduced to a political slogan and an excuse for overuse of violence,” he wrote.
After his appeal was rejected, Raphael Wong, vice-chairman of the League of Social Democrats, said he was considering his next step.
“We should care about the well-being of affected residents in the northeastern New Territories,” he said outside court.