A pro-government supporter has been fined for assaulting a TV cameraman during a rally backing the chief executive.
Designer Paul Fan Che-ming, 61, was fined HK$1,500 after pleading guilty yesterday at Eastern Court to a single count of assault. Fan was ordered to pay HK$1,000 in compensation to the cameraman, Lau Ka-wo.
Fan admitted to assaulting Lau at Victoria Park on December 30 last year.
The court heard that Fan abruptly punched Lau once in the head from behind. Lau was treated at Ruttonjee Hospital for tenderness to the area.
At 3.30pm on December 30, about 2,400 supporters of Caring Hong Kong Power gathered at the park for a march to the government headquarters in Admiralty. The 31-year-old cameraman and reporter Chau Chi-wing were covering the rally for Now TV when 10 people surrounded them, accusing them of asking demonstrators questions deemed biased against the administration.
The assault was captured on video by another journalist who was covering the event.
Magistrate Joseph To Ho-shing said: "Peaceful and rational protests have become a social phenomenon, and have been accepted by the public as a means to express their views.
"If anything illegal, including the use of violence, happens during protests, it will be extensively reported by the media."
Such reporting might suggest violence was prevalent at the protest, which would be unfair to other rally participants who abided by the law, To said. As a journalist, Lau, the magistrate said, had every right to carry out reporting duties.
The Journalists Association and Press Photographers Association had previously said the assault was a breach of Hong Kong's freedom of speech.