A woman who previously admitted to taking photos in a courtroom said on Friday that she has “almost forgotten” about taking the photos.
35-year-old Tang Lin-ling was charged with criminal contempt of court for allegedly taking three photos on the morning of May 23 which showed the defendants, barristers, and clerk inside the courtroom, during a hearing on the clearance of the 2014 Umbrella Movement Mong Kok protest site.
The case was adjourned to Monday morning, when a judgment will be delivered. Tang will remain in custody.
A witness, who was a pupil barrister at the court during the incident, told the court on Friday morning that he saw Tang switch on her iPhone’s camera mode and take a photo.
Another witness, a police officer who was responsible for the case, said he examined Tang’s phone and found three photos taken inside the courtroom.
Tang gave evidence before Mr Justice Andrew Chan. She said that she was awarded a master’s degree in finance at the University of Sydney in 2012, and mainly worked on conducting cross-border mergers and acquisitions for a state company in China after graduation. She said the highest position she held was vice president at China Railway Construction Corporation (International)’s investment department. She became a Hong Kong resident in 2015.
She said that she came to the court on May 23 to observe a “riot” case because the case was of public importance. She added that she recently obtained a legal qualification, so she wanted to learn how the Hong Kong legal system worked.
She said she also observed cases of public interest in Beijing, and added that a more transparent court was in line with the “sunshine judiciary” policy in the mainland.
Chan asked Tang to respond to a witness’ statement that she took photos before court proceedings commenced.
“I don’t have much awareness of taking photographs,” Tang said. “I have almost forgotten now.”
“Regardless of whether the photo was taken, I have great respect for the court including the judge,” she said. “I never meant to show or hold any contempt.”
Chan asked if his understanding – that Tang was saying she did not intend to obstruct the court hearing – was correct, and Tang said yes.
A witness said on Thursday that two photos – one of the front door of the courtroom and one of a public gallery ticket – were uploaded to Tang’s account on the Chinese social media app WeChat.
Asked to respond to the witness’ claim, Tang said she discovered that there have been continuous infringements of her privacy including her WeChat account information.
Tang also said there had been a lot of media coverage of her. She said much of the coverage was “improper and inaccurate,” and harmed her reputation.
She said she wished to suggest that court hearings involving large-scale events such as rioting cases should allow instant video recording to increase transparency. “It can prevent public emotions from being stirred up by people with illegal intentions,” she said.
But Chan said it had nothing to do with the case: “I am not interested in any court reform in the future.”
Chan asked if Tang was saying that, if she indeed took the photos, it was to help Hong Kong people understand the city’s judicial process.
“Yes, that’s part of my intention,” she said.