Two Diaoyu Islands activists were fined yesterday for carrying passengers on their vessel without a licence during a planned trip to the islands. Lo Chau and Kwok Man-chiu, the owner and captain of the vessel, the Kai Fung 2, faced one count each in Eastern Court of carrying a passenger without a licence, and one each of having insufficient firefighting equipment on board. The pair earlier denied the first charge but pleaded guilty to the second. Deputy Special Magistrate Joes Fung Bo-yee fined them HK$1,350 each for both charges. The prosecution relied on the testimony of Cheung Kai-ming, an inspector from the Marine Department with 14 years of experience. On May 3 last year, Cheung inspected the vessel, which was carrying 12 people, including the two defendants and an engine operator. It was the first time the group on board, who have often sailed to the Diaoyu Islands to declare Chinese sovereignty, had had their trip blocked. The islands are claimed by Beijing, Japan and Taiwan. The vessel is licensed as a fishing boat and is supposed to carry crew only, not passengers. 'PW1 [Cheung] said there were places [on the vessel] he did not check, but places that should have fishing equipment did not have any. Also, PW1 said he did not see anyone carrying out fishing activities,' Fung said. Cheung testified on February 24 that he spotted flags with messages about the Diaoyu Islands on the boat. Also, almost everyone in the group was wearing identical T-shirts with similar messages printed on them. He inspected the vessel because he had heard an announcement earlier that the vessel intended to go to sea but not on a fishing trip. Outside court yesterday, the pair said the charges against them were political, and they accused the government of not doing anything towards claiming sovereignty. When Fung asked Lo during mitigation whether he had anything to say, Lo replied: 'This matter, for me, history is the judge. I will not ask the court for leniency.' The pair said that they would consult their lawyers about a possible appeal.