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Hong Kong courts

Public gallery erupts as four pro-establishment supporters sent to jail after losing appeal over Hong Kong airport protest where activist Nathan Law was attacked

  • Delivery man Giok Kheng, 54, retired nurse Kwong Kwai-sim, 70, Tong Fat-cheung, 73, and Lau Pit-chuen, 72, took part in unlawful assembly
  • Defendants sent straight to jail, triggering a fierce protest by supporters of the four, with one woman calling judge ‘a dog’
PUBLISHED : Friday, 21 December, 2018, 5:30pm
UPDATED : Friday, 21 December, 2018, 9:15pm

A Hong Kong court has dismissed a “trivially hollow” appeal by four pro-Beijingers who were jailed for joining an illegal protest in which then lawmaker Nathan Law Kwun-chung was assaulted.

Delivery man Giok Kheng, 54, retired nurse Kwong Kwai-sim, 70, Tong Fat-cheung, 73, and Lau Pit-chuen, 72, took part in an unlawful assembly on January 8 last year when they joined a crowd to protest against former student leader Law at Hong Kong International Airport.

The then pro-democracy lawmaker had just returned to Hong Kong after attending what the protesters thought was a pro-independence conference in Taiwan.

The four defendants were found guilty of unlawful assembly in West Kowloon Court last December, while Tong and Kwong were also convicted of one count of common assault during the chaotic protest.

After rejecting their appeal at the High Court on Friday, Mr Justice Joseph Yau Chi-lap immediately ordered that the four be taken away to serve their three-month jail sentences. That triggered a fierce protest by supporters of the four in the public gallery, as well as from Tong in the dock.

“What is the problem?” one woman yelled, before Yau left the court. Another woman called the judge a “dog” who carried a “yellow ribbon”, a symbol of the city’s democratic movement.

Tong smacked the metal bar of the dock with his hand. “Hail the Communist Party of China,” he said. “The Hong Kong government is an accomplice of independence.”

Lawyers for Giok and Tong argued during the appeal that the trial magistrate had mistakenly ruled that Law gave no consent for them to pull him by his collar. Even if Law did not give consent, magistrate Edward Wong Ching-yu had erred in ruling out the pair’s genuine belief that Law had let them to so, they argued.

Pro-China mob attack on Nathan Law left him fearing for his life

But in his ruling on Friday, Yau said it was clear Law described the situation at the time as “urgent” and that he should not have been treated in such a way.

He said Law also tried to let security guards surround him, while Giok’s actions stopped short of being a friendly patting.

“This ground of appeal is basically trivially hollow and unreasonably vexatious,” he said, also ruling that the trial magistrate had not caused any injustice to any of the defendants.

During the trial, it heard that at least three of them attended the assembly because they wanted to protect the unity of China and were unhappy that Law flew to Taiwan to attend the forum.

When Law returned from Taiwan that night, protesters were waiting. The mob punched, kicked and poured an unknown liquid on Law. The trip was made before Law was disqualified as a legislator over his improper oath-taking while being sworn in to the Legislative Council.

While Giok and Tong pulled Law, Kwong hit him with a placard. Police and security guards had to stop them, including Lau, who rushed towards Law.

Wong accepted Law as a reliable witness – a finding with which Yau agreed on Friday.