Benny Tai, eight others lose appeals over Occupy - RTHK
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Benny Tai, eight others lose appeals over Occupy

2021-04-30 HKT 13:25
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  • Benny Tai, eight others lose appeals over Occupy
  • Lee Wing-tat (left), Chan Kin-man (centre) and Shiu Ka-chun speak to the media after Friday's judgement was handed down. Photo: RTHK
    Lee Wing-tat (left), Chan Kin-man (centre) and Shiu Ka-chun speak to the media after Friday's judgement was handed down. Photo: RTHK
Timmy Sung reports
Nine pro-democracy figures on Friday lost appeals against their convictions for taking part in the 2014 Occupy protests.

In 2019, Benny Tai, Chan Kin-man, Raphael Wong and Shiu Ka-chun were jailed for between eight and 16 months on public nuisance charges, while Chu Yiu-ming, Tanya Chan, Eason Chung and Lee Wing-tat received suspended prison sentences. Tommy Cheung, who's now a district councillor, was given 200 hours of community service.

At the Court of Appeal, the nine argued, among other things, that they only played minor roles in the events that unfolded, that wrong or imprecise charges were laid against them, that the alleged offences were ambiguous, and that the charge of "incitement to incite" was unconstitutional.

In handing down their judgement, a panel of three judges said the protest movement "was a determined and sustained effort to paralyse the main arterial roads in the very centre of Hong Kong for weeks on end in order to pressure the government into changing its mind" on political reform.

They added that the disruption went "far beyond a matter of inconvenience for ordinary citizens going about their business and trying to earn their living."

The judges said they found no reasonably arguable grounds and could see no error by the trial judge.

"We cannot accept the argument that the applicants, having planned the Occupy Central movement for some 18 months, and having seen how events had unfolded in Tim Mei Avenue, did not knowingly conspire to commit, or incite, a public nuisance," they wrote.

The went as far as praising District Court judge Johnny Chan for his "consummate patience, fairness, and ability" at the trial.

Speaking to reporters after the judgement was handed down, Chan Kin-man said the nine were very disappointed.

"The reasons why we have to file an appeal was because we believe the charges over us were inappropriate. It gave too much power to the prosecution and it did not protect the civil rights of the people," he said.

"We are very disappointed that the Court of Appeal did not correct the mistakes made by the lower court."

He said they are undecided on whether to take the matter to the Court of Final Appeal.

The 2014 protests lasted for 79 days. They were sparked by Beijing setting down a rigid framework for changes to the way Hong Kong chooses its chief executive, with critics saying the restrictions ruled out any chance of genuine universal suffrage.