A court has refused to retract a charge of “incitement to incite” public nuisance for the nine leaders of the 2014 pro-democracy Umbrella Movement protests.
The defendants are facing charges of inciting others to create a public nuisance, and inciting others to incite more people to create a public nuisance. The three co-founders Benny Tai, Chan Kin-man and Reverend Chu Yiu-ming face an additional charge of conspiring to create a public nuisance.
The defence had argued last month that the “incitement to incite” charges were unconstitutional and “unnecessarily” formulated to increase pressure on them.
But Judge Johnny Chan refused the demand to quash the double inchoate charge on Tuesday.
Chan said the charge exists in common law and is not unconstitutional. He also said the charges of incitement and “incitement to incite” have different prosecution factors and are easily distinguishable.
Chan added that the court will not interfere in how the prosecution selected charges, with Director of Public Prosecutions David Leung had saying that the charges were the most appropriate ones.
Chan Kin-man said they were disappointed with the result.
“Some of these charges have never been used in history – especially the ‘incitement to incite’,” he said.
He said the charges were related to their speeches, and if they were convicted, “it might infringe freedom of speech protected by the Basic Law.”
He also said that more than a million people joined the protests out of free will and there was no incitement.
The six others charged include lawmakers Tanya Chan and Shiu Ka-chun, the Democratic Party’s Lee Wing-tat, the League of Social Democrats’ Raphael Wong, and former student leaders Tommy Cheung and Eason Chung.
Wong was imprisoned for another case related to the Occupy movement. He received applause and cheers from the audience as he entered court.
The case will be heard in mid-November.
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