Barrister Chow Hang-tung, the former vice-chairwoman of the now-disbanded Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, has won an appeal against a conviction and 15-month prison term over a banned June 4 vigil last year.
West Kowloon magistrate Amy Chan earlier found Chow guilty of inciting others to take part in an unauthorised assembly, through articles in a newspaper and on social media.
But in a written judgement on Wednesday, Court of First Instance judge Judianna Barnes said police did not exercise their responsibility in allowing and facilitating a peaceful public assembly wherever feasible, as stated in the Public Order Ordinance.
“Even though organisers of the gathering had expressed their willingness to comply with any reasonable requests of the police, the police only raised questions, and did not seriously consider that, nor raised a series of measures or conditions to be considered… to control the actual risk of the virus spreading,” she wrote.
Barnes added that the force did not consider an expert report, which only discouraged mask-off large-scale assemblies, when deciding whether to ban the gathering.
The legality of the police ban, therefore, could not be ascertained, Barnes concluded.
The judge added that while Chow had called for people to gather at Victoria Park, her action was not a crime as the ban was not legally sound.