Three photos taken inside a courtroom showing the faces of barristers and defendants were found on the phone of a woman facing charges for allegedly taking photos in court, the High Court heard on Wednesday.
Tang Lin-ling was accused of taking photos during a hearing on the clearance of the 2014 Umbrella Movement Mong Kok protest site last week. She was arrested on Tuesday after failing to meet her bail conditions.
The prosecution said Tang remained silent while police officers took her statement, but she gave them the password to her phone. The police also obtained statements from three witnesses.
Judge Andrew Chan asked in court if Tang has anything to say. She responded in Mandarin, saying that it was a public hearing and she was not aware that it was forbidden to take photos inside the courtroom.
She said she thought photography was allowed because there were many LCD monitors and people were using their phones in the courtroom.
“Yesterday I spoke to Jesus and he thought it was a minor issue and that I was innocent,” she said.
In defending her failure to meet the bail conditions, Tang said that unknown people had stolen her identity and thus she could not take out enough cash from her credit cards to make bail.
Tang also said the address she provided was incorrect because of her lack of local knowledge in Hong Kong, and added that she could give a new address.
Chan stopped her and asked if she had any mental illnesses. Tang responded: “absolutely not.”
Chan asked the prosecution how to proceed with a contempt of court charge when the defendant apparently had a mental disorder. The prosecution replied that it had no experience in such cases.
Judge Chan said he was inclined to hold a summary trial as early as Thursday and would not allow Tang to be released on bail.
Chan said he would ask the Legal Aid Department if it can help Tang. But Tang said she had lost confidence in foreign lawyers.
“If the lawyer from the Legal Aid Department is professional, I will consider it; if he is not professional, I will make my own arrangement,” Tang said.
Chan said it would be even better for her to arrange a lawyer herself as her proclaimed income may exceed the upper limit for legal aid.
At Tang’s request, Chan gave her permission to call lawyer Eric Lui of the firm Stevenson, Wong & Co., who Tang claimed to know. But Lui was later found not in Hong Kong at the moment.
On Wednesday afternoon, Tang declined a lawyer provided by the Legal Aid Department, saying that she was more professionally qualified than the lawyer.
She will remain in custody until the hearing on Thursday.
The case is the third reported incident of photos being taken inside the courtroom during hearings for protest-related trials in recent months.
On May 18, the High Court sought protection for jurors in the Mong Kok unrest trial involving localist Edward Leung after the judiciary received a photo of four jurors in an email.