National Day 10 admit leading marchTop News | Wallis Wang 18 May 2021
Next Digital founder Jimmy Lai Chee-ying and nine prominent democracy activists have pleaded guilty to organizing an unauthorized assembly on National Day in 2019.
They could face up to five years' imprisonment under the Public Order Ordinance.
Lai, 73, Lee Cheuk-yan, 64, Leung Kwok-hung, 65, Albert Ho Chun-yan, 69, Yeung Sum, 73, Sin Chung-kai, 60, Cyd Ho Sau-lan, 66, Avery Ng Man-yuen, 44, Figo Chan Ho-wun, 25, and Richard Tsoi Yiu-Cheong, 53, entered their pleas yesterday to District Court judge Amanda Woodcock.
Ng and Tsoi also admitted to taking part in the assembly, while the same charge against the other eight defendants was not pursued by the court.
Chan, Lee, Leung and Albert Ho also pleaded guilty to an additional charge of inciting others to take part in the unauthorized assembly.
Lai, Leung, Lee and Cyd Ho are currently serving prison terms of eight to 18 months for organizing or taking part in assemblies in August 2019, while the six other defendants are on bail.
But prosecutors applied to withdraw the bail terms for Albert Ho, Yeung, Sin, Ng, Chan and Tso. Woodcock adjourned the case to today to settle the bail questions.
Woodcock said she would hear mitigation pleas on Monday and set sentencing for the following Friday.
The court heard that all 10 defendants showed up outside Sogo in Causeway Bay on October 1, 2019, despite police having banned the gathering.
At around 1pm the 10 led more than 1,000 demonstrators toward Central with a banner out front.
They set the route and led slogans including "No rioters, only tyranny" and "Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times," the prosecution said.
During the march some demonstrators blocked the roads and MTR entrances, threw eggs at posters of President Xi Jinping and national flags and shouted at police.
The prosecution said a number of violent incidents occurred, which forced shops to close early.
And some demonstrators threw petrol bombs at the Central Government Office complex in Tamar. That saw police deploy water cannon to disperse them, which caused serious traffic jams on main roads.
As for the incitement charge against Chan, Lee, Leung and Albert Ho, the court heard the four called on people to join the march despite it being banned by police.
Lee said people have freedom of assembly and police had no right to deprive them of their rights. He said people should express their demands by joining the protest action and appealed to people to go to Hong Kong Island to join the march and show the world that Hongkongers did not forget their demands.
At a press conference, Chan told reporters he might be arrested on October 1 but he would still come out and practice civil disobedience.
Albert Ho noted outside the court before the case moved along that police had banned all rallies and marches since August 2019, but a strong demand remained for Hongkongers to express their opinions to the government.
He said people should have the right to express themselves on National Day, adding: "If more Hongkongers get to speak out in a peaceful and orderly manner after we lose our freedom we will have no regrets and will [go to prison] without hesitation."