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Occupy Central

Occupy protester jailed for contempt of Hong Kong court over injunction violations

Lawmaker’s assistant becomes the first person to be imprisoned for violating injunction during the 2014 unrest, while another is fined HK$10,000

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 30 March, 2017, 11:57am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 26 September, 2017, 3:00pm

A key Occupy protester was jailed for three months on Thursday for defying a court injunction against blocking roads two-and-a-half years ago, marking the first such punishment meted out by Hong Kong’s justice system against those who brought chaos to the city in the name of democracy.

Alvin Cheng Kam-mun, a lawmaker’s assistant, became the firstperson to be sentenced for criminal contempt of court over injunctions sought against participants of the 79-day road sit-ins in 2014.

Waiter Au Yuk-kwan was fined HK$10,000 and given a suspended sentence of one month for the same offence.

High Court judge Andrew Chan Hing-wai said a deterrent sentence was needed for large-scale and deliberate actions to defy court orders.

This was to protect the rule of law, “which distinguishes civilised society from anarchy”, he said, quoting a Canadian judge in a previous case. “Your conduct does not embarrass this court; it challenges the very existence of it.

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“In the whole spectrum of conduct classified as contemptuous, there can be none more sinister or more threatening than that of organised, large-scale, deliberate defiance of an order of the court.”

Yesterday’s sentencing coincided with the first court appearance of nine, higher-profile Occupy leaders and activists facing a range of public nuisance charges in a separate case.

The three Occupy founders – academics Benny Tai Yiu-ting and Dr Chan Kin-man, and the Reverend Chu Yiu-ming – as well as lawmakers, activists and former student leaders, turned up at Eastern Court, shouting in defiance. They are expected to return to the same court on May 25.

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In 2014, protesters paralysed parts of the city by blocking major roads in Admiralty, Causeway Bay and Mong Kok to fight against the government’s proposals to ­reform the city’s election system under a rigid framework imposed by Beijing.

Taxi and minibus driver groups complaining about the impact on their business successfully applied for a court injunction to get the protesters off Argyle Street in the popular shopping hub of Mong Kok.

Cheng, Au and others were ­arrested on November 25, 2014. They were among dozens, including student leader Joshua Wong Chi-fung, accused of criminal contempt. But while others pleaded not guilty, Cheng and Au ­admitted their involvement.

The two were initially arrested over a civil injunction, but later faced criminal contempt when the Department of Justice took over the proceedings.

Judge Chan said Cheng should go to jail because of the little remorse he showed for arriving late and “toying with his mobile phone” during a previous court appearance.

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He described Cheng’s involvement as a “flagrant defiance of the injunction order”. Video footage showed a masked Cheng holding banners and a loudspeaker during the protest. “It can hardly be disputed that his involvement in the occupation, thus his conduct in contempt, was extensive and deep,” the judge said.

He said Au was only present at the protest that particular day to show support for the Occupy movement.