Activist trio face jail over police HQ siege

Top News | Sophie Hui 24 Nov 2020

Sophie Hui

Former Demosisto activists Joshua Wong Chi-fung, Agnes Chow Ting and Ivan Lam Long-yin were yesterday remanded in jail custody after pleading guilty to inciting people to besiege the police headquarters in Wan Chai in June last year.

The trio had said they expected to go behind bars before they entered West Kowloon Magistrates' Courts yesterday. They will be sentenced by magistrate Lily Wong Sze-lai next Wednesday.

Wong, 24, Chow, 23, and Lam, 26, admitted inciting people on Harcourt Road to join an unauthorized assembly on June 21, 2019. That offense carries a maximum penalty of three years' imprisonment.

Wong also pleaded guilty to organizing the unauthorized assembly but not guilty to knowingly taking part in an unauthorized assembly. As the prosecution did not intend to offer evidence on that charge it was effectively dropped.

Chow admitted taking part in an unauthorized assembly earlier.

The prosecution said around 400 protesters had gathered on Harcourt Road near the Legislative Council building on June 21 last year, demanding a scrapping of the fugitive bill.

The trio appeared at about 11am, and Wong and Lam used loudspeakers to call upon protesters to surround the police headquarters, and Chow joined in the action.

Police attempted to stop protesters from occupying roads while the trio told protesters repeatedly to block the two entrances of the police headquarters.

Several hundred protesters then spread to Arsenal Street, surrounding the headquarters for 15 hours.

The prosecution said Wong played a leadership role, taking the lead in chanting slogans outside the headquarters.

Video clips played in court showed Wong using a microphone and leading led protesters in the chant "There is no riot, only tyranny."

Wong also demanded that then-police commissioner Stephen Lo Wai-chung face the protesters and retract his claim that a protest action on June 12 had been a riot.

Wong also called for police to stop making arbitrary arrests and tackling protesters violently.

The prosecution also found messages that Wong sent on messaging app Telegram.

They showed he had planned the previous day to besiege the police headquarters, to enter the report room to put up posters and argue with officers there.

Representing Wong and Chow, senior counsel Lawrence Lok Ying-kam said in mitigation that Wong was named one of Time magazine's 25 most influential teens in 2014.

And he handed in letters from Wong's mother, pastor and his assistant professor at the Open University that described him as an upright, kind and responsible young man.

It was also noted by Lok that on the day of the siege Wong gave way to ambulances and taxis many times.

On Chow's role, Lok said she did not have a criminal record. Nor did she use a loudspeaker that day - an indication of a lower level of participation.

Since Chow pleaded guilty before the hearing, the magistrate said there would be a one third reduction of her sentence.

Lam's counsel, Jeffrey Tam Chun-kit, said he had participated to a lesser extent in the incident, and he did not incite others to damage facilities.

But the magistrate said Lam has four criminal record entries, so the court would not consider him being given a community service order.

Speaking before he went into the court building, Wong said the 12 youngsters being detained on the mainland for a 93rd day yesterday deserved more of people's attention than his case.

Wong also said he would not give up and called on Hong Kong people to support each other at a time the democracy movement is being suppressed.

"I am persuaded neither prison bars nor election bans nor any other arbitrary power will stop us from activism," he added.

Unlike Wong and Lam, who have been behind bars previously, it was a first time for Chow to be held in detention for a court case.

Chow said she was a little scared about going to prison, but she would face the prospect "bravely.''

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