An activist was assaulted outside court yesterday before being given a suspended jail term for trespassing at the PLA barracks in Admiralty.
The assault took place at the entrance to Eastern Court in Tai On Street yesterday afternoon.
A man, later identified as a 58-year-old unemployed Hong Kong resident, allegedly assaulted Billy Chiu Hin-chung, 29, as he was about to read a statement in front of reporters.
The man yelled, "What nation are you building?" and "You are also Chinese" before physically attacking Chiu.
Chiu, founder of Hongkongers Come First - which calls for Hong Kong's independence - was grabbed and slapped twice before he fell to the ground.
The assailant then sprang forward and allegedly kicked Chiu before he was stopped by three policemen. The suspect told officers he launched the attack because he could not stand Chiu, a police source said.
A police spokesman said the attacker, who was arrested at the scene, was released on bail after questioning and had not been charged.
Chiu suffered no apparent injuries and was able to enter the court to hear the verdict.
Activists broke into the barracks on December 26, waving a colonial-era Hong Kong flag and calling on the PLA to "get out".
Chiu was sentenced to two weeks in jail for entering a closed area without a permit, but the term was suspended for 12 months. The activist, who had plead not guilty, said he would appeal.
"I don't think PLA staffers should have given testimony in court because they have immunity in Hong Kong," he said.
He was told by the magistrate that the PLA witnesses who gave evidence were acting as members of the public.
But Chiu insisted: "I agree with the case, but I dispute the charges … I don't agree with the procedures [of having PLA officers giving evidence]."
Talking about the assault after the hearing, Chiu told journalists: "From what [the man] said, I believe he is one of the left-wing radicals. Whether it's the stuff that I chanted earlier or my entering the PLA barracks, it's a way for me to freely express my views. But what he did was destroying this freedom."
He was then taken to hospital for a check-up.
Dickson Cheung Hon-yin, 40, and Tse Wing-man, who earlier plead guilty to the same charge as Chiu, were each fined HK$2,000. Defence lawyer Norton Pang Leung-ting, for Cheung and Tse, told the court that the pair showed remorse and realised their actions were "unwise and immature".
But outside court, the duo said they pleaded guilty only because they wanted to avoid having to make numerous trips to court. They said that given the opportunity again, they might take their protest further.
Another defendant, a 15-year-old boy who was also charged with entering the restricted area, will be sentenced next week.
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