The High Court has sought juror protection and banned members of the public from entering the courtroom for the trial of localist Edward Leung and four others over their participation in the 2016 Mong Kok unrest.
Judge Anthea Pang gave the order Friday afternoon after the judiciary’s complaints office received an email from an unidentified person around noon. Attached to the mail was a photo showing the faces of four of the jurors.
According to Pang, the email said “there are many more,” suggesting the sender has more photos of the jurors.
Pang said a public trial was important for ensuring transparency and fairness, but she proposed barring members of the public from entering the courtroom in order to protect the jurors.
She also suggested 24-hour protection for jurors and setting up a hotline for them to seek police assistance at the end of the trial.
The defence and prosecution agreed with Judge Pang’s suggestions. Media will still be allowed in the courtroom, while members of the public will be able to watch the trial outside the courtroom via a live stream.
Judge Pang asked the prosecution to contact the police and arrange for them to escort the jurors after the trial ends.
The judiciary will report the incident to police, according to Pang.
Edward Leung and four others faced rioting and other charges in relation to the protests that broke out over Chinese New Year in 2016, which were triggered when authorities attempted to clear street hawkers in Mong Kok.
During the trial, two incidents emerged of people allegedly taking photos inside the courtroom. The first took place in February, when a man claiming to be a mainland tourist was found taking photos inside the courtroom and uploading them onto social media.
Judge Pang said at the time that the man had deleted the relevant items and it should not constitute any inconvenience to the jury. Although she expressed concern that the photos may be circulated on social media, she reassured the jury that the individual will be prosecuted for publishing these photos.
Less than two weeks later, another Mandarin-speaking man was accused of taking photos of Leung during the trial. But the judge said the incident might be a misunderstanding and jurors had no need to be concerned.
At the time, police said no further action would be taken as no evidence was found.
Additional reporting: Ellie Ng.