Obstruction charges were dropped against Land Justice League activist and Legislative Council candidate Eddie Chu Hoi-dick, as well as three others, at the Tsuen Wan Magistrates’ Court on Friday. The group was earlier arrested and charged after organising a bazaar at Yat Tung Estate in Tung Chung in June.
The bazaar was one of many held in protest of Link Real Estate Investment Trust (Link REIT). After the outsourcing of Yat Tung Estate’s market to Uni-China (Market) Management Limited, rents and food prices rose, forcing some stallholders to leave.
According to the charges, the four defendants caused obstruction of public space by placing items on the floor near Yat Tung Shopping Centre on June 26. In court on Friday, the prosecution said that after seeking legal advice, it had decided to withdraw the charges against the four.
Counsel for the defence applied for costs and, meeting with no objection from the prosecution, the application was approved by the magistrate.
Chu and the others said outside the court that apart from the hearing fees, they are also seeking to have transportation costs to and back from the police station and court covered, but the amount has not been determined yet.
Michael Vidler, for the defence, told HKFP following the ruling that the situation was extraordinary: “Clearly [they were] unaware of the law at all – they had absolutely no basis to prosecute.”
“The resources deployed for the raid, as such, were 30 Housing Department personnel, 20 private security guards and 30 police officers,” Vidler said. “It is shocking such an amount of public resources were used to raid a public event… anybody – certainly with any prosecuting authority – should have known from the very beginning that there was absolutely no basis to charge these individuals.”
Eddie Chu Hoi-dick is running for a seat in the New Territories West constituency in the upcoming Legislative Council elections.
The full list of candidates running across districts and constituencies can be viewed here.
Additional reporting: Tom Grundy, Kris Cheng.