An Eastern magistrates’ court has adjourned hearings on the case of a localist lawmaker charged with desecrating the national and Hong Kong flags.
Principal magistrate Bina Chainrai on Tuesday moved the hearing date to May 16, after the defendant, Cheng Chung-tai, 33, from localist party Civic Passion, appeared in court and was greeted by dozens of pro-establishment protesters, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
Cheng told the court that he did not receive documents from the prosecution until last Thursday, a day before the four-day public holiday began, and there was no sufficient time for him to seek legal opinions on his case.
He applied for a no contest plea and asked for adjournment; the judge granted his request with a HK$1,000 bail.
Cheng told media outside the court there is no way he will plead guilty to the charge.
On Oct. 19 last year, Cheng turned small national and Hong Kong flags upside down in the Legislative Council chamber after pro-establishment lawmakers staged a walkout to prevent two localist lawmakers-elect – Sixtus Baggio Leung and Yau Wai-ching – from retaking their oaths.
Cheng said the case against him was absurd and called it a “political purge”.
Meanwhile, about 30 people from a pro-establishment group called Proud and Wonderful Hong Kong gathered outside the court on Tuesday to protest against Cheng’s act, with some holding national flags and banners that read “Humiliation to China and Hong Kong” and “Trash lawmaker”.
They demanded that Cheng be stripped of his Legco seat and urged the authorities to list him along with other members of his party as “terrorists”, Ming Pao Daily reported.
Under the National Flag and National Emblem Ordinance, a person who desecrates the national or regional flag can be jailed for up to three years and fined as much as HK$50,000 if convicted.
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