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Law

Law

Edward Leung supporter fined HK$1,000 for contempt of Hong Kong court over scarf with political message

Alexandra Wong, 61, remains defiant and says she will lodge an appeal

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 March, 2018, 7:02pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 March, 2018, 7:58pm

A woman was on Thursday fined HK$1,000 (US$130) for wearing a scarf with the words “reclaim Hong Kong” earlier this month in the lobby of a court building as she watched the live stream of the riot trial of localist Edward Leung Tin-kei.

Madam Justice Anthea Pang Po-kam said she found Alexandra Wong Fung-yiu, 61, guilty of contempt of court as the retiree had consciously planned to ignore a court order prohibiting all slogan displays despite being warned and reminded.

“The court is a place for hearings, not a venue for expressing political opinions,” the judge said.

Scarf with political message lands supporter at Edward Leung trial in hot water

But Wong, dressed in a T-shirt with the words “self determination” and a British flag pinned to her chest, remained defiant. “I’ve decided to appeal because I don’t think I should be convicted,” she told reporters after the hearing.

Earlier on Thursday, she staged a small protest outside High Court, tearing up pieces of red paper before throwing them at the court building.

“I have my right to wear what I want,” she shouted. “How did I affect the court?”

Around her neck was a colourful scarf printed with the words “reclaim Hong Kong”, the same one that landed her in hot water on March 7.

The court is a place for hearings, not a venue for expressing political opinions
Judge

At the time Pang’s court was hearing a jury trial of five men accused of taking part in riots or unlawful assemblies in the popular district of Mong Kok on February 8 and 9 in 2016.

The judge was informed by security guards that Wong was wearing the scarf in the lobby, an area which is considered an extension of the courtroom. Pang issued an order just the day before – prohibiting all displays of slogans – after Wong wore a backpack attached with placards stating “say no to red Hong Kong” and “release political prisoners”.

On Thursday, Pang mentioned the reason for her verdict – she had noticed the scarf and recalled that she had explained to Wong how the piece of cloth would be a breach of court order. Wong had claimed she was unclear about the rules and confused by security guards. She also asked for a mirror to look at the scarf.

The judge dismissed Wong’s claims of being unaware of the rules and the slogan on the scarf, noting that Wong was present in court when she explained the order. Wong must have also noticed the words on the scarf she was wearing when she put it on, the judge said.

“I am certain that Wong understood the court order and that her behaviour might constitute contempt of court,” Pang said.

In mitigation, defence counsel Joe Chan noted that the jury could not have seen his client’s scarf as Wong had earlier been banned from entering the courtroom after she had chanted slogans in January.

He also revealed that Wong, being a Shenzhen resident, had been waking up at 5am and travelling five hours a day to and from the court in Admiralty just to attend the hearing because she cared for prosecuted young people.

“She always wanted to do something to support them or help them spiritually,” Chan said.