Legco-siege protesters face riot charges

Top News | Cissy So 10 Jun 2020

Activist Ventus Lau Wing-hong and former University of Hong Kong student union president Althea Suen Hiu-nam will face an additional charge of rioting - on top of a count of entering the Legislative Council chambers illegally last July 1 - when they appear at Eastern Magistrates' Courts today.

That means they could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

It is understood most of 12 arrested protesters - including actor Gregory Wong Chung-yiu - will face rioting charges after the storming of the Legco building in Tamar.

Wong, 41, will be alongside Lau, 26, and Suen, 24, at Eastern Magistrates' Courts this afternoon.

Lau said on Facebook yesterday that his lawyer had informed him the prosecution would be applying to add the rioting charge.

"Originally, the prosecution charged us each with entering or remaining in the precincts of the chamber," he wrote.

The maximum sentence on that charge is three months in prison, Lau said. But now a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison looms. "I did see the change of charge coming but did not expect it to be the day before appearing in court," Lau said, adding it "was quite sudden."

He went on: "When I first got charged for entering or remaining in the precincts of the chamber I knew I would not only be charged with such an offense with the maximum sentence of three months' imprisonment."

Lau also saw the prosecution adding the charge against them to a more serious offense in a high-profile way to intimidate people from marching on the streets.

But he did not think this would bring a halt to protests that started out against the fugitive bill on June 9 last year.

Suen noted on Facebook that it was first anniversary of the anti-fugitive law movement and the charges against her for the July 1 protest now included rioting.

And Wong wrote on Facebook that others should not worry about him.

"Since being arrested on September 30 last year it is clear the government will take high-profile actions before all these special days," Wong wrote.

"The purpose of such actions is to scare those who want to voice out and to shift the focus."

On July 1 last year protesters stormed into the legislative complex, daubing graffiti and damaging items.

The charge of entering or remaining in the precincts of the chamber is against the Legislative Council (Powers and Privileges) Ordinance, punishable with up to three months in prison and a fine of HK$2,000.

But rioting comes under the Public Order Ordinance.

Apart from Lau, Suen and Wong, protesters arrested include Wong Ka-ho, 21, a photojournalist from City University student union's editorial board, and student Man Ka-kin, 21.

Others were construction worker Shum Keng-lok, 24, and street artist Pun Ho-chiu, 32.


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