The High Court should drop charges against 20 Occupy activists as the Department of Justice (DOJ) has failed to follow proper procedures in seeking prosecution for contempt of court, a lawyer representing six of the activists argued on Monday.
Barrister Gerard McCoy told the court that the DOJ failed to file “notices of appointment to hear originating summons” against the defendants within 14 days of application in April, Ming Pao Daily reported.
The department also tried to hide its mistake from the court by filing an application with revised case contents, McCoy argued.
The lawyers representing the other defendants agreed with McCoy.
The 20 defendants, including Joshua Wong and Lester Shum, were charged with obstructing bailiffs who were clearing a protest area in Mong Kok on Nov. 26 last year.
Wong is convenor and founder of student activist group Scholarism, while Shum is former deputy secretary general of the Hong Kong Federation of Students (HKFS).
Their applications for dismissal of charges came after the High Court in September dropped contempt charges against another batch of 17 activists on the same ground of procedural mistake made by the DOJ.
However, a DOJ spokesman countered McCoy by saying that the department did not try to seek a deadline extension by revising the case.
He said his side will explain details and legal points of view during the next court hearing that is scheduled for February 25 next year.
Shum said outside the court that the DOJ should not have made a mistake like this. It is taxpayers who will be paying for the mistake, he said.
The student leader said he expects the DOJ to lodge an appeal even if the High Court decides to drop the charges against him and other activists.
He is probably right as the department has sought permission to re-charge the 17 activists who were cleared by the court earlier.
Contempt charges against protesters quashed after DOJ trips up (Sept. 1)
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