Hong Kong’s top court on Tuesday rejected an activist’s bid to overturn his contempt of court conviction, as judges said he unquestionably intended to block court bailiffs from clearing a pro-democracy Umbrella Movement protest site in 2014.
The League of Social Democrats vice-chair was among 20 protesters jailed in 2014 after failing to comply with an injunction to clear the Occupy protests camp in Mong Kok in November 2014. He pleaded not guilty and was imprisoned for four-and-a-half months. He completed the sentence in April.
Wong’s appeal to overturn the jail sentence was rejected by the Court of Appeal in March this year, and he subsequently applied for leave to challenge his conviction at the Court of Final Appeal.
Senior Counsel Martin Lee, representing Wong, argued that although his client stayed at the site, the Department of Justice failed to prove Wong wished to interfere with bailiffs, and thus should not be found guilty of contempt of court.
Court of Final Appeal Permanent Judge Roberto Ribeiro said Wong showed up at the occupied area almost daily, and would know what he was doing. He unquestionably blocked the bailiffs and the police from clearing the site, Ribeiro said.
Outside court, Wong said he was disappointed by the result, saying that the case amounted to a “very significant” concern.
“We hoped the Court of Final Appeal would discuss the nature of the offence of criminal contempt of court,” he said. “Because, to Hong Kong, it was an unprecedented thing to use a civil procedure [injunction] and turn it into a criminal procedure to charge protesters.”
Wong also said the case stemmed from former chief executive Leung Chun-ying, whose administration charged him with the offence.
He accused Leung of shifting the government and the police responsibility to enforce the law on to a minibus company, who ultimately applied for the injunction.
“Shame on Leung Chun-ying for abusing the legal system,” he said. “Leung Chun-ying is the one guilty of contempt of court.”