15 out on bail appeal to protest supporters

Top News | 19 May 2020

Jane Cheung

Democratic Party founder Martin Lee Chu-ming, Next Media founder Jimmy Lai Chee-ying and 13 others have been released on HK$1,000 bail each after being charged with organizing, inciting to participate and taking part in illegal assemblies during anti-government protests last year.

The group of 15 yesterday appeared at the West Kowloon Magistrates' Courts.

Principal Magistrate Peter Law Tak-chuen transferred their cases to the District Court where the next trial will be on June 15.

They were charged for their alleged involvement in three assemblies and arrested in a high-profile police operation on April 18.

When asked if they understood the charges against them, League of Social Democrats chairman Raphael Wong Ho-ming told the court: "I understand, this is a political prosecution."

Outside the court, the defendants made a gesture of "five demands, not one less" - the demands sparked by the anti-fugitive movement last June.

Labour Party vice chairman Lee Cheuk-yan said he will continue to fight for democracy.

Former Democratic Party chairman Yeung Sum said: "Hongkongers won't be deterred. I call for everyone to stand up as a whole to fight for democracy and freedom."

Together with Martin Lee and Lai, Lee Cheuk-yan, fellow party member Cyd Ho Sau-lan, Neighbourhood and Worker's Service Centre lawmaker Leung Yiu-chung, former lawmakers Au Nok-hin and "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung as well as barristers Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee and Albert Ho Chun-yan were each charged with one count of organizing an unauthorized assembly and one count of knowingly taking part in an unauthorized assembly during the August 18 rally.

Civil Human Rights Front vice convener Figo Chan Ho-wun, Lee Cheuk-yan, Leung Kwok-hung and Albert Ho were each charged with one count of incitement to knowingly take part in an unauthorized assembly on the eve of the October 1 protest.

Former Democratic Party chairman Sum, the party's former vice chairmen Sin Chung-kai and Richard Tsoi Yiu-cheong and former League of Social Democrats chairman Avery Ng Man-yuen, Chan, Lee Cheuk-yan, Leung Kwok-hung, Albert Ho, Cyd Ho and Lai each faced one count of organizing an unauthorized assembly and one count of knowingly taking part in an authorized assembly for protests on National Day.

As for the third count of protest on October 20, Chan, Leung Kwok-hung, Cyd Ho and Albert Ho each faced one count of incitement to knowingly take part in an unauthorized assembly.

Wong, Chan, Leung Kwok-hung, Cyd Ho, Sum and Avery Ng also each faced a count of organizing an unauthorized assembly and one count of knowingly taking part in an unauthorized assembly on October 20.

Benny Tai Yiu-ting, an associate law professor at the University of Hong Kong and one of the Occupy Central founders, Civil Human Rights Front convener Jimmy Sham Tsz-kit, former Democratic Party chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing and hundreds of people flocked to the court to support the group.

Lau said it is outrageous to prosecute the democrats and criticized the government for depriving Hongkongers' of their rights to peaceful assemblies and protests. "One country, two systems is breaking down under the Chinese government's suppression," she said. "We must come out and defend our freedom."

jane.cheung@singtaonewscorp.com

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