Legislative Council oath-taking saga

Hong Kong pro-independence activists not yet ready to enter pleas, court hears

Lawyers for disqualified lawmakers Baggio Leung and Yau Wai-ching say case documents were only served to them after office hours on Thursday

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 April, 2017, 6:54pm
UPDATED : Friday, 28 April, 2017, 8:56pm

Two disqualified pro-independence lawmakers and their personal assistants told a Hong Kong court on Friday that they were not yet ready to enter a plea over an incident in which they are accused of storming into a meeting of the city’s legislature last November.

Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang, 30, and Yau Wai-ching, 25, who were disqualified from the Legislative Council after they distorted their oaths of office during a swearing-in ceremony, made their first court appearance along with assistants Yeung Lai-hong, 24, Chung Suet-ying, 25, and Cheung Tsz-lung, 29.

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Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions David Leung Cheuk-yin SC said prosecutors were ready to take pleas.

But defence lawyers told principal magistrate Bina Chainrai in Eastern Court that case documents were only served to them after office hours on Thursday.

“We need more time to study the materials,” defence lawyer Jonathan Man Ho-ching said.

The case was adjourned for four weeks to May 26, with all five defendants released on their existing bail of HK$3,000.

The court heard the alleged offence took place outside a conference room in the Legislative Council complex on November 2 last year, when the pair were barred from entering the meeting.

The five were charged with one joint count of taking part in an unlawful assembly, an offence punishable by five years in jail.

The charge alleges that they assembled together and conducted themselves in a disorderly, intimidating, insulting or provocative manner intended to cause others to be reasonably fearful that they would commit a breach of the peace or provoke others to do so.

They also face an alternative charge of attempted forcible entry, which accused them of attempting to enter a conference room with other unnamed individuals in a violent manner.

Five security guards were injured during the chaos, including one who suffered breathing difficulties and lost consciousness.

The localist pair made headlines around the world when they first took their oaths at the inaugural meeting of the new Legco on October 12 last year. They uttered pro-independence slogans and language deemed insulting to China.

Within a week, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying took them to court. The case prompted an interpretation by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee making such oath-taking offences punishable by disqualification.

The pair were disqualified by the High Court on November 15, a week after the Legislative Council Commission – which supervises the operation of the body’s secretariat – banned their 13 personal assistants from entering the council complex.