A Hong Kong magistrate today told prosecutors it should not have taken them so long to bring Occupy protesters to court, as student leaders including Joshua Wong Chi-fung appeared before her almost a year after the pro-democracy movement began.
Principal Magistrate Bina Chainrai made the comment when she responded to the prosecutor in charge of the case of student Chui Tsz-chun, one of eight defendants pleading not guilty at Eastern Court to various charges taking place about a day before the Occupy protest went into full swing last September.
After the prosecutor said he would like the case to be dealt with soon as it was a “straightforward” one, Chainrai said: “If it is pretty straightforward, it should not take a year to prosecute.”
In court today, former Federation of Students secretary general Alex Chow Yong-kang, 25, faced one count of taking part in an unlawful assembly in Hong Kong between September 26-27, while his successor Nathan Law Kwun-Chung, 22, faces one charge of inciting others to take part in an unlawful assembly on the same two days.
Scholarism convenor Wong, 18, faces both charges dated September 26.
The court has not heard details on whether these charges are related to a protest outside the government headquarters in Admiralty last September, which resulted in protesters subsequently storming into the space outside the complex known as “Civic Square”.
But Wong, when asked to make a plea, said: “Citizens have the rights to enter Civic Square.”
Wong was represented by counsel Randy Shek, while barrister Alvin Yeung appeared for the other two student activists.
Five more protesters – Chau Kwan-ting, 29, Ngan Chin-fung, 24, Wong Ho, 35, Chui, 17, and Scholarism’s Lam Shun-hin, 22 – each face one count of common assault against various policemen and security guards outside the government headquarters and Legislative Council on the same two days.
The magistrate adjourned the trio’s case, which involves 51 witnesses, to October 30 for a pre-trial session. The rest would attend their pre-trial session on October 5.
Outside the court, supporters unfurled yellow umbrellas and chanted slogans to support Wong, Law and Chow.