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Hong Kong courts

Democracy activist Avery Ng denies inciting protesters outside Beijing’s liaison office, Hong Kong court hears

Videos played by prosecution showed police trying to block people gathering because of looming central government interpretation of city’s Basic Law

PUBLISHED : Monday, 09 July, 2018, 6:30pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 July, 2018, 4:28pm

A pro-democracy activist on Monday denied inciting people to challenge a police cordon outside the central government’s liaison office to protest news of Beijing’s plan to interpret the Basic Law.

The West Kowloon Court heard Avery Ng Man-yuen, 41, was among seven men on trial after they were filmed taking part in a rally organised by the Civil Human Rights Front on November 6, 2016.

Prosecutors alleged that protesters at the march deviated from the police-approved route to hold an assembly outside the liaison office in Sheung Wan, in protest against the rumoured interpretation of the city’s mini-constitution.

Beijing’s move was prompted by the oath-taking antics of two lawmakers – Yau Wai-ching and Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang – at the Legislative Council.

On Monday, assistant director of public prosecutions Raymond Cheng Hoi-chung accused Ng of repeatedly using a megaphone to instruct protesters to climb over barricades erected by police, despite officers’ warnings.

“We have more numbers than the police, we could simply climb over,” Cheng quoted Ng as saying. “Climb, everybody, climb.”

Five of Ng’s co-defendants – Chan Man-wai, 23; Dickson Chau Ka-faat, 25; Chau Shu-wing, 66; Ip Chi-hin, 27; and Lo Tak-cheong, 22 – allegedly answered his call by shaking the barricades. But police prevented them from climbing over.

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Dickson Chau and Ip were also said to have grabbed Ng’s body to stop him from being taken away by chief inspector Gar Ka-lam, who then struck the two protesters with a baton.

The prosecutor alleged the two subsequently tried to take away the inspector’s baton, but to no avail. Chau was further accused of twice waving his right arm in the face of detective sergeant Sin Tai-kam.

Ng was arrested when Chau and Ip were finally restrained with the help of two officers, Cheng said.

Meanwhile, Cheng Pui-lun, Lingnan University’s then student union president, was accused of pushing barricades and chanting: “Oppose the National People’s Congress’ interpretation! Storm the liaison office!”

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Some 8,000 people were present at the height of the rally.

Videos played in court showed police tried to block marchers’ advance in Central, but were met by jeers and protests.

The day after the rally, China’s top legislative body approved the Basic Law interpretation, requiring all public officials to take their oaths “sincerely” and “solemnly” or face disqualification. This eventually resulted in Yau, Leung and four other lawmakers losing their seats.

Ng, the League of Social Democrats chairman, is charged with two counts of inciting others to take part in an unlawful assembly, and two alternative counts of incitement to behave in a disorderly manner in a public place.

Civil Human Rights Front convenor Ip, as well as the elder Chau, Cheng, and Lo, are each charged with one count of taking part in an unlawful assembly. League member Chan faces two counts of the same charge.

Ip and the League’s deputy secretary general, Dickson Chau Ka-faat, are also accused of obstructing a police officer in the due execution of his duty. Chau is further charged with assaulting a police officer.

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All seven men have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The other two co-defendants are Ivan Lam Long-yin, 23, and now chairman of the pro-democracy political party Demosisto, who pleaded guilty to charges of taking part in an unlawful assembly, and his former party colleague Derek Lam Shun-hin, 24, who pleaded guilty to incitement to behave in a disorderly manner in a public place.

The two will be sentenced at a later date.

The 16-day trial continues before magistrate Peony Wong Nga-yan.