Nathan Law felt his ‘life was under grave threat’ in Hong Kong airport attack by pro-China mob
The 24-year-old activist was testifying on the first day of a trial for three men and two women charged with unlawful assembly and common assault
Pro-democracy student activist Nathan Law Kwun-chung feared for his life as he was taunted, punched, kicked and doused with an unknown yellow liquid by 20 to 30 middle-aged protesters at Hong Kong International Airport in January, a court heard on Wednesday.
The frenzied attack played out in the airport’s arrival hall, where the pro-China mob closed in on Law, waving placards and chanting “traitor”, “running dog” and “get out of Hong Kong”.
“I believe no one should be treated like this,” the 24-year-old chairman of political party Demosisto said.
He was testifying on the first day of a trial for three men and two women charged with unlawful assembly and common assault.
They are delivery man Giok Kheng, 53; housewives Lam Kam-sheung, 68, and Kwong Kwai-sim, 67; and retirees Tong Fat-cheung, 72, and Lau Pit-chuen, 71.
All have pleaded not guilty.
The West Kowloon Court heard Law was on his way to meet the press at the airport’s arrival hall on January 8 following a trip to Taiwan. He was still a lawmaker then, though he was disqualified by the High Court in July for failing to take his oath properly.
The hecklers surrounded him and the police officers and security guards accompanying him.
“The situation at the time was critical,” Law testified. “Protesters were very close and I believe the security guards and police officers did not expect the protesters on site would be so frenzied.”
In the five minutes that followed, Law recalled protesters grabbed his collar and backpack, punched his chest, and kicked his thighs.
He was also hit with placards and splashed with an unknown yellow liquid, before someone threw water bottles and poured water on a nearby staircase that he was about to use, causing him to slip and fall.
“I was afraid that there might be more serious attacks, like what if the liquid was corrosive, I could have been subjected to more harm.
“I felt my life was under grave threat,” Law said.
News footage played in court showed security guards struggled to shield Law from angry protesters. Law emerged from the commotion with his white shirt stained yellow, torn and unbuttoned, revealing red marks on his chest.
The court also saw a video of Law slipping on the staircase, with onlookers clapping and shouting, “good, slip and die”.
He sought treatment at North Lantau Hospital where a medical examination found injuries on his neck, chest and calves, with scratch marks across his chest, and bruises on his arms and right buttock.
Law later identified Giok and Lau in police line-ups.
On Wednesday, their defence counsel Foster Yim pointed out that police had recommended that Law cancel his meeting with the press.
Law admitted receiving the advice but explained that he proceeded anyway as he believed he would be safe in the airport.
“I believe no one should be treated like this whichever route one takes to leave the airport,” he continued.
“That is a major safeguard to maintain travellers’ confidence in Hong Kong International Airport.”
“This is a court of facts,” the counsel replied. “I put it to you that it was you who walked into the crowd of protesters.”
Law agreed. He also accepted the defence’s suggestion that he could have been wrong about being punched, after it was put to him that none of the news clips showed that this had happened.
“I felt the punches and kicks but I cannot determine if they were intentional or who caused them,” Law said.
“So you are not sure if it was an assault,” Yim countered. Law said yes.
The four-day trial continues before magistrate Edward Wong Ching-yu.