An activist accused of trespassing at the People's Liberation Army barracks in Admiralty yesterday failed to have the case thrown out of court on the grounds it was politically motivated.
Billy Chiu Hin-chung, 29, cited articles from Hong Kong and mainland newspapers which he said were written by senior mainland officials and which demanded those involved in the incident on December 26 be severely punished.
But magistrate So Wai-tak ruled Chiu's accusation that the Department of Justice had acted for political reasons groundless.
While prosecutor Jonathan Man Tak-ho said the articles were not written by officials, Chiu maintained the authors were from Beijing's foreign ministry and Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office.
Chiu and three others - Dickson Cheung Hon-yin, 40, Tse Wing-man, 29, and a 15-year-old who cannot be named because he is under 16 - were arrested on January 1. All four have pleaded not guilty to entering a closed area without a permit.
The trial is due to start next Monday and last four days. There are nine prosecution witnesses, including PLA officers and police officers.
The teenager, who arrived with his mother, was the only one of the defendants to be at court on time for the 9.30am pre-trial hearing.
Chiu's late arrival cost him his HK$500 bail money, but So bailed him again on a further HK$500 surety. "Court proceedings should be treated seriously," he told Chiu, who said he was unemployed and of no fixed abode.
Duty lawyer Jasper Kwan Hang-fan said he believed Chiu, who was more than half an hour late, had gone to the wrong court.
Cheung and Tse, who arrived slightly earlier, said they had got stuck in traffic. Cheung lives on Cheung Chau, and Tse, a salesman, lives in Yuen Long. Cheung asked the court not to confiscate his bail money as he, his wife and two daughters, aged three and five, lived on social security.