20 people to face contempt charges over Occupy clearance in Mong Kok
Twenty people would face charges of criminal contempt of court over a court-mandated clearance of the Mong Kok Occupy site in November, the Department of Justice told the High Court yesterday.
They were among 23 arrested for obstructing bailiffs executing a court order granted to a transport firm to remove barricades obstructing Argyle Street.
To avoid "double prosecution", the department would not pursue charges against them at Kowloon City Court for blocking public officers from executing their duties, the court heard.
"According to case precedents, [the arrested people] should not be charged twice for the same set of allegations," prosecutor David Leung Cheuk-yin said. He was referring to the case against 16 people who faced a preliminary hearing at Kowloon City Court on November 27.
A day later, the department told the High Court it needed more time to consider whether all 23 should be charged with criminal contempt.
The arrests were made on November 25 as Chiu Luen Public Light Bus carried out a court injunction to reopen Argyle Street on the 59th day of the Occupy Central protests.
Prosecutors yesterday dropped a contempt charge against one of those arrested, Cheung Tak-wing, because he was an International Associated Press journalist working at the scene.
The cases for two others were dealt with behind closed doors, so it was not known why the charges were dropped.
The department would apply to start the criminal contempt proceedings in 28 days. High Court judge Mr Justice Anderson Chow Ka-ming said the court would then decide whether it was justifiable to proceed.
Another of the defendants, lawmaker Leung Kwok-hung, complained that upon the prosecution's decision, Kowloon City Court should have immediately lifted the bail conditions on the 16 people, including himself, that barred them from setting foot in a specified area of Mong Kok.
"It is … [David] Leung and the secretary for justice's responsibility to inform the court that the bail conditions are no longer necessary," he said.