A man claiming to be a mainland tourist was discovered taking photos inside a courtroom and uploading them onto social media during the trial of localist Edward Leung.
Leung is among a group facing rioting charges over the Mong Kok unrest that broke out after the government’s attempt to clear street hawkers during Lunar New Year 2016. Leung pleaded guilty last month to assaulting a police officer and has since been remanded in custody.
Judge Anthea Pang told the High Court on Friday that a member of the public witnessed a man taking seven or eight photos, as well as a video, of the jury in the courtroom. He then uploaded them on to China’s WeChat social media network. The witness informed a lawyer friend in the courtroom – security and bailiffs were then notified.
The bailiffs told the court that the man said he was a tourist from mainland China, and that he claimed he did not know pictures were not allowed inside courtrooms in Hong Kong.
Under the Summary Offences Ordinance, anyone who takes photos inside court buildings in Hong Kong or publishes such photos commits an offence and is subject to a fine of HK$250. There are clear signs inside courtrooms indicating that photography is forbidden.
The man deleted the images in front of the bailiffs and emptied the trash folder on the digital device. However, the bailiffs did not inspect the man’s WeChat upload history, nor did they verify whether he was indeed a mainland tourist, Apple Daily reported.
The prosecution initially objected to the incident being reported by the media, but the defence said that – if the court wished to stop others from taking photos – the best way was for the matter to be reported.
According to the prosecution, the bailiffs also failed to obtain contact information from the man.
Judge Pang said that the incident was an unintentional mistake which occured due to a lack of knowledge of local legal procedures. She said she believed that it was not targeted at any particular member of the jury, RTHK reported.
The judge said that the man had deleted the relevant items and it should not constitute any inconvenience to the jury. She also expressed concern that the photos may be circulated on social media, but reassured the jury that the individual will be prosecuted for publishing these photos.
The matter has been handed over to the judiciary to decide whether to seek assistance from the police.