Two walk free after unfair protest trial

The High Court on Monday overturned the convictions of two people accused of joining an unlawful assembly in 2019 saying the trial wasn’t fair, but it upheld the convictions of six other defendants in the case.

Siu Ho-yin, Tang Wing-hei, Chan Chun-ting, Ann Han, Liu Chi-fung, Carmen Chan, Byran Wu and So Ching-yee had been found guilty of taking part in an unlawful assembly on the night of August 3, 2019, when hundreds of protesters blocked and occupied roads in Mong Kok.

The eight defendants were given up to six months in prison or sent to rehabilitation centres, with seven of them released on bail for the appeal.

Delivering her verdict, Justice Judianna Barnes ruled that the prosecution had failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Wu, 25, and So, 24, had been part of the unlawful protest.

In her judgement, Barnes accepted that Wu may have only been a passer-by, adding that the lower court had failed to fully consider his testimony. She also noted that it was not clear whether Wu was the same person identified by prosecutors in CCTV footage.

She also ruled that So had not been given a fair trial, noting that the Kowloon City magistrate had cross-examined her alongside the prosecutors. Barnes added that So’s account that she had been looking for a lost friend at the time may have been true.

But Barnes rejected the appeals of the other six, saying the prosecution had proved their roles in the protest beyond reasonable doubt.

The six were immediately taken back into custody to complete the remainder of their sentences.

After the verdict was announced, So broke into tears and hugged family and friends who were there to support her.