A 35-year-old woman has admitted to taking photos inside a courtroom and uploading them online, but denied a criminal contempt of court charge.
On Thursday, Mr Justice Andrew Chan said Tang Lin-ling took three photos on the morning of May 23 which showed the defendants, barristers, and clerk inside the courtroom during a hearing on the clearance of the 2014 Umbrella Movement Mong Kok protest site.
Chan said Tang will be charged with criminal contempt of court. Tang admitted that she took the photos and uploaded them to Chinese social media app WeChat, but denied the charge.
Tang denied help from the Legal Aid Department on Wednesday, saying that she was more professionally qualified than the lawyer provided by the department. She represented herself in court.
Tang asked Chan if she could speak to him in Mandarin without an interpreter. Chan said in reply that his Mandarin level was limited but he can understand 99 per cent if Tang speaks slowly. He told Tang to continue using Mandarin and the interpreter translated her words into English.
Tang asked Chan to handle the case as soon as possible to save the court’s time and resources. She asked Chan if he will pay the legal fees, and the judge said no. Chan then postponed the hearing to Thursday afternoon.
The prosecution called two witnesses to the stand. Both sat close to Tang during the photo-taking incident and identified her as the person who took photos.
Sik Chee-ching, a Cambridge University law graduate, said he was in the courtroom’s public gallery observing the hearing on May 23 since his pupil master Victor Dawes was representing the government in the Umbrella Movement case.
Sik said before the hearing commenced, he was annoyed by Tang’s phone, which was constantly vibrating, and looked at the screen. He said he saw Tang’s WeChat app where two photos – of the front door of the courtroom and of a public gallery ticket – were uploaded. Sik said he then saw Tang hold her phone at chest level and take two photos inside the courtroom. Sik added that he saw Tang take another photo during the break before leaving the courtroom.
Another witness, Suriyam Joshua Kanjanapas, was a pupil barrister. He was also in the public gallery as his pupil master Jin Pao was representing the government in the Umbrella Movement case.
Kanjanapas said he saw Tang switch her phone to camera mode and click her screen once.
Tang asked Kanjanapas if he saw it with his eyes: “Or is it your imagination?” Kanjanapas confirmed he saw her take the photo with his eyes.
Tang also asked both witnesses if they used their phones to go online during the incident. Both said their phones were on flight mode and were using the Wi-Fi service in accordance with court rules.
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.