HK media tycoon Jimmy Lai and 12 others face incitement charges over June 4 Tiananmen vigil

15-Jul-2020 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:02 AM Print This Post

Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai Chee-ying and 12 opposition figures faced incitement charges on Monday over their roles in the banned June 4 vigil to mark the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown.

The 13 appeared in West Kowloon Court on Monday afternoon accused of inciting people to take part in an unauthorised assembly on June 4 in Victoria Park, the venue for the city’s annual vigil.

Some of the accused stated in court they would plead not guilty to the allegations, despite prosecutors’ request to adjourn the case without hearing the defendants’ pleas.

Get the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China.

Police had banned the annual candlelight gathering for the first time in three decades, citing public health concerns over the Covid-19 pandemic. The United States and the European Union had decried the ban.

Lai and three executive members of the Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China chair Lee Cheuk-yan and standing committee members Albert Ho Chun-yan and Richard Tsoi Yiu-cheong were notified by police one week after this year’s event that they would be prosecuted on incitement charges.

Nine other members of the alliance were also told the next day they would be prosecuted on the same grounds, bringing the total number of arrestees to 13.

The nine are Andrew Wan Siu-kin, Cheung Man-kwong, Leung Yiu-chung, Mak Hoi-wah, Chiu Yan-loy, Chow Hang-tung, Leung Kam-wai, Kwok Wing-kin and Civil Human Rights Front vice-convenor Figo Chan Ho-wun.

Six of the 13 indicated in court they would plead not guilty to the charges when they were asked whether they understood the allegations.

“I understand the charge, but this is a political prosecution,” Lee told Principal Magistrate Peter Law Tak-chuen.

Five others, including Chiu, Chow, Leung Kam-wai, Kwok and Chan, said: “Commemorating June 4 is not a crime.”

Prosecutor Anthony Chau Tin-hang asked the magistrate to put the 13 on cash bail, although it is not a common practice for a court to do so in summonses.

Law rejected the request after the defence counsel raised an objection. He added, however, that the prosecution could renew their application if there was a change of circumstances in future proceedings.

Before the hearing, the 13 observed a moment of silence outside court in remembrance of the late Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize laureate who died on July 13 three years ago after he was diagnosed with liver cancer in prison.

Lee said the incitement prosecutions against them were “a complete denial of our rights” under the Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution, adding that the annual gathering would continue in the future despite the new national security law.

“We believe it is the Hong Kong government, the police, that should be put on trial,” Lee said. “[The government] may be able to ban our assemblies, but they cannot ‘ban’ our candlelights.”

The 13 will appear in the same court on September 15 pending further police inquiries.


Category: Hong Kong

Print This Post