Three prominent student leaders who were declared guilty by a local court Thursday in connection with charges related to the 2014 Occupy protests have said that they don’t regret their actions.
Joshua Wong, Alex Chow and Nathan Law said that despite the adverse court ruling they don’t regret participating in the “Reclaim Civic Square” initiative on Sept. 26, 2014, a few days before the Occupy movement officially kicked off.
Speaking outside the Eastern Magistrates’ Courts, where they were greeted by dozens of supporters, the pro-democracy activists said they were prepared for the verdict and that they will seek legal advice before planning their next step.
Wong, 19, former convenor of the now-defunct student group Scholarism, said there is a long and hard road ahead for people who are battling for democracy, and that they won’t give up the fight.
The activists are prepared to serve time in jail, if necessary, Apple Daily quoted him as saying.
After months of trial, a court ruled Thursday that Wong and Chow were guilty of taking part in an unlawful assembly, while Law was declared guilty of inciting others to join an unlawful assembly.
Chow, 25, is the former secretary-general of the Hong Kong Federation of Students, while Law, 23, succeeded Chow in the key student body post last year.
Wong is currently the secretary general of the political party Demosistō, which was formed in April. Law is serving as the party’s chairman.
All of them, who had pleaded not guilty to the charges filed against them, were granted bail pending sentencing on Aug. 15 as the court waits for reports from a probation officer and a welfare officer.
Magistrate Cheung Tin-ngan said in her ruling that no one has absolute right of protest in public places and that such a right also does not exist in terms of venues and forms of protest.
Evidence provided by the prosecution justified convictions of the three, the judge said, according to the Hong Kong Economic Journal.
However, she decided to dismiss a charge against Wong of inciting others to join an unlawful assembly.
The prosecution told the court earlier that Wong called on students to join him in entering the Civic Square on the east side of the government building on Sept. 26, 2014.
At least 12 security guards were reportedly injured during clashes with the protesters.
Wong, who allegedly told police officers not to stop him, was later arrested as his action was videotaped by the police.
Law, who has submitted an application to run for a seat in the Hong Kong Island district for the Legislative Council election in September, said he fears that he could face disqualification if he is sentenced to jail, Apple Daily reported.
But his campaign team is prepared to battle it out, he said.
Chow, meanwhile, said he is happy as his family and friends can get some relief as the case is coming to an end.
The case provides a good reference for the public to contemplate issues regarding city’s governance issues, he added.
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