Carrying a cross and invoking the persecution of Jesus, pro-democracy activists and hundreds of their supporters marched to the headquarters of the Hong Kong government on Saturday, as the fallout from the 2014 Occupy protests nears a conclusion. In a deeply religious ceremony based on the Via Dolorosa, the path Jesus took to crucifixion, the movement’s founders were supported by Protestants and Catholics as they made their symbolic journey. The nine leaders return to court on April 9, where they will learn their fates after being charged with a variety of offences in connection with the 79-day civil disobedience movement. Led by the outspoken Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, who told the activists not to fear the possibility of going to jail, the event began around 4pm in Causeway Bay, and finished in Admiralty some 2½ hours later. “We might be sending them off, but don’t be afraid,” he said at the end of the ceremony. As a religious official Zen said he would be able to visit the activists, should they be sent to jail, and called on them to have hope in the “long, dark night”. One of the nine defendants, Occupy founder Benny Tai Yiu-ting, said about 400 people attended, while police estimated that 290 took part at the height of the march. Tai also said activists were ready to appeal, should things not go their way in court next month. “We think it was inappropriate to handle peaceful protests with public nuisance charges,” he said. Tai was first to carry the cross, while the march halted several times so those present could recite Bible passages and sing hymns. Four of Tai’s co-defendants, Occupy founders Dr Chan Kin-man and Reverend Chu Yiu-ming, Civic Party lawmaker Tanya Chan, and former student leader Tommy Cheung Sau-yin, also made an appearance. As did the Democratic Party’s former chairman Martin Lee Chu-ming, and former Civic Party lawmaker Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee. Occupy leaders on trial: who they are and what they’re accused of Samuel Ng, a 21-year-old university student, said the Occupy leaders had kept their promise to face the consequences of their civil disobedience. Ng also said the protest’s ideals were in line with his Protestant faith. “We protest against rotten and unfair systems, this is the founding principle of the Protestant faith,” he said. Retired lecturer Sandra Lo Yeem-han, who is Catholic, said she was moved by the activists’ fight for justice. Lo said she did not expect the nine Occupy leaders to face incitement charges, only milder counts for obstructing streets. The trial of the nine was adjourned at West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts last December. Hong Kong courts signal patience for violent protest has run out Tai, Chu and Chan Kin-man have all denied three joint counts against them: one of conspiracy to cause public nuisance; one of inciting others to cause public nuisance; and one of inciting people to incite others to cause public nuisance. Five other defendants, legislators Tanya Chan and Shiu Ka-chun, former student leaders Cheung and Eason Chung Yiu-wa, and Raphael Wong Ho-ming, vice-chairman of the League of Social Democrats, have all denied two incitement charges. Former Democratic Party lawmaker Lee Wing-tat has denied one count of incitement to commit public nuisance. Each charge carries a maximum jail sentence of seven years.