As the trial continues of nine leaders of the 2014 Occupy street protests, a Hong Kong courtroom on Thursday witnessed emotional scenes, with some of the defendants bursting into tears as they recalled the inspiring and dramatic moments of the pro-democracy campaign four years ago.
Watching the video footage being played by prosecutors, which showed clips featuring thousands of young men and women staging mass sit-ins on the street and facing off with policemen, Benny Tai Yiu-ting — one of the three co-founders of the Occupy Movement — appeared particularly moved.
During the hearings in a West Kowloon court, Tai was seen sobbing, unable to hold back his emotions, after a video clip was replayed as evidence as prosecutors sought to build their case against the leaders of the 2014 civil disobedience campaign.
On the fourth day of the hearing, the prosecution presented to court a clip in which the three Occupy co-founders — Tai, Prof. Chan Kin-man, and Rev. Chu Yiu-ming — could be seen at a press conference and urging protesters to retreat in the wake of violence in Mong Kok and Admiralty.
The purpose of replaying the clip was to prove that the trio was behind the massive street protests, with authorities charging them with conspiracy to cause public nuisance, inciting others to cause public nuisance, and inciting people to incite others to cause public nuisance.
In the clip, the Occupy co-founders could be heard saying that they would surrender to the police and were prepared to admit to taking part in an unlawful assembly.
Chu was heard saying with tears in his eyes that while police were using batons to beat unarmed people, a crackdown which he said shows lack of integrity, shamelessness and irrationality on the part of the government, he still had to stick to the promise he made to himself, which was to make sure every participant of the movement could return to their homes safe and sound.
Chu told the press conference that he, as a senior, had to make a decision to ensure participants’ safety.
Hearing once again the sentimental words uttered by his comrade, Tai, an associate professor of law at the University of Hong Kong, could not help but lean over and start crying bitterly in the dock where he sat, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
In a social media post after Thursday’s hearing, Tai said the reason he shed tears was that he was deeply moved by Chu’s words, whose effect he described as a canister of tear gas.
Several of the other defendants also could not hold back their emotions, with tears welling up in their eyes.
In addition to that news conference clip, the prosecution showed other videos taken by the police and used them as evidence against two other defendants－Raphael Wong Ho-ming, who is vice-chairman of the League of Social Democrats, and former Democratic Party lawmaker Lee Wing-tat.
The rest of the defendants include Civic Party lawmaker Tanya Chan Suk-chong; social welfare functional constituency lawmaker Shiu Ka-chun; and Tommy Cheung Sau-yin and Eason Chung Yiu-wa, who are former members of the Hong Kong Federation of Students.
The prosecution told the court on Thursday it has finished showing all the video evidence it holds and that it will call witnesses to the stand next Monday when the hearing resumes.
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