Radical lawmakers have taken the battle from the Legislative Council to the courts, accusing one magistrate of siding with the police and calling on supporters to prepare for a long struggle against the government.
Eastern Court magistrate Joseph To Ho-shing, who found "Mad Dog" Raymond Wong Yuk-man and Albert Chan Wai-yip guilty of unlawful assembly, said Chan's accusations that he has a political agenda are serious and insulting and he will consider legal action. To also convicted the People Power pair of organizing and taking part in unauthorized processions.
Sentence will be passed on May 13. The maximum penalty for unlawful assembly is a fine of HK$5,000 and imprisonment for three years. Wong and Chan face losing their Legco seats if jailed for a month or more.
Tension had been building up before To delivered his verdict, with People Power supporters packing the court.
Some had not turned off their mobile phones, while one member munched on a cough drop, forcing To to adjourn delivering his verdict for 10 minutes.
He returned to declare Wong and Chan guilty but acquitted party lawmaker Raymond Chan Chi-chuen and Wong's assistant Chau Tsun-kiu on the unlawful assembly charge.
To also accused Wong of being "untrustworthy" and said it was clear that both Wong and Chan organized supporters to confront the police and disturb the peace.
Outside court, Wong accused To of siding with the police, adding that the outcome was "ridiculous and out of context."
He called on his supporters to be "well-prepared for a long struggle" against the government and said he feared for the day when local courts would be "manipulated by the Communist Party."
After reading the judgment for six hours, To said both Wong and Chan organized supporters to break through a police cordon and disturb the peace after leading activists on a march from Wan Chai to Central on July 1, 2011. The activists occupied a major road in Central and scuffled with the police, bringing traffic to a standstill.
To said he did not accept Wong's argument that he did not mobilize the activists and accused Wong of lying in a bid to escape the charges. He also rejected Wong's argument that he only wanted to create an atmosphere by asking activists to march to Government House, saying they took it on themselves to head there, where they confronted a police cordon.
To also dismissed Wong's charge that the court had taken on the role of prosecutor as well as judge.
Albert Chan said last night: "It was not my intention to upset the judge, and if my words were found to be offensive I would apologize."
Analysts said Wong and Chan have moved the battleground from Legco to court by challenging the judge.
They said the ruling would put more pressure on the pro-democracy camp.
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology political analyst Sing Ming said police have given the public the impression they are taking a tough stance against anti-government rallies and are prepared to prosecute protesters selectively, especially as this protest was staged almost two years ago.
Civil Party lawmaker Kwok Ka-ki said the ruling would put pressure on the pro-democracy camp in organizing anti-government rallies.