Convicted Hong Kong protesters fight weapons conviction over chilli spray and ‘BMX gear’
Defence lawyer says magistrate ‘jumped steps’ when making his judgment last year
Two Hongkongers found carrying chilli spray at a 2015 protest sought to overturn their weapons conviction on Friday, arguing that they did not intend to take part in a non-peaceful demonstration.
Chan Yiu-shing, 35, was found guilty of possessing an offensive weapon and sentenced to nine months jail in May last year after police intercepted him carrying five bottles of chilli spray and wearing protective “BMX gear” at the protest in Yuen Long on March 1, 2015.
His co-defendant Cheng Wai-shing, 31, was sentenced to six months jail for possessing one bottle of the chilli spray during the same protest.
Protests emerged in the New Territories in 2015 with Hongkongers voicing their discontent towards mainland parallel goods traders. Locals said the traders had swamped their neighbourhoods, caused congestion and a shortage of goods.
During Chan and Cheng’s trial in May 2016, a magistrate ruled that the protective gear worn by Chan was “a clear sign that it was not for a peaceful protest” and the chilli spray was an offensive weapon. At the time, the pair argued that the spray was intended for consumption.
Having now completed their jail time, the pair took to the High Court on Friday to appeal against their conviction and sentences.
Their lawyers argued that being dressed in protective gear and carrying multiple bottles of chilli spray did not mean that they intended to take part in a non-peaceful protest.
Chan’s defence lawyer, Alexander Cheung Hok-fung, said the convicting magistrate jumped steps to reach his conclusion.
“The magistrate said the gear was for protective reasons, which we accepted,” Cheung recalled of the May 2016 trial.
He said the magistrate then, however, concluded that the protective gear proved Chan was not there to take part in a peaceful protest and the spray was therefore an offensive weapon.
“There had to be other evidence before such an inference can be drawn,” he told High Court judge Mr Justice Albert Wong Sung-hau.
Cheung argued that Chan’s gear was for his own protection as there was a commotion on the day. He said Chan might also have been leaving the protest when police intercepted him, therefore suggesting that he would not have used the spray on others.
Defence lawyer for Cheng, Randy Shek Shu-ming, contested the magistrate’s decision to deem one bottle of chilli spray as an offensive weapon.
Mr Justice Wong is expected to hand down his judgment at a later date.