Three pro-democracy figures facing charges of illegal entry and rioting related to the storming of the legislature last July were among six defendants granted bail on Wednesday.
Former Hong Kong University Students’ Union president Althea Suen, 23, actor Gregory Wong, 41, and activist Ventus Lau, 26, and 12 others were called to appear at Eastern Magistrates’ Court in connection with the break-in. The case has been adjourned until August 3 and will be transferred to the District Court.
The trio, alongside exiled activist Brian Leung, revealed on Tuesday they were to face an additional charge of rioting, which carries a maximum penalty of ten years’ imprisonment under the Public Order Ordinance, but is limited to seven years when handled by the District Court.
On July 1, 2019, protesters broke into and vandalised the legislative complex following a huge march against an ill-fated bill that would have enabled fugitive transfers to mainland China. The incident marked a turning point in the ongoing pro-democracy movement and was followed by months of sometimes violent unrest over police behaviour and Beijing’s encroachment.
Leung, 26, chose to unmask himself in the chamber to deliver a speech to other demonstrators. He is now based in the US and did not attend the court hearing. He wrote on Twitter that he had intended to fly back to Hong Kong before being informed of the rioting charge. Another defendant Fan Chung-man, 27, also did not show up.
Meanwhile, prosecutors dropped charges against Chow Nok-hin, 29, citing insufficient evidence. His charges rested on a piece of paper reading “Carrie Lam resign,” found in the dining hall with his fingerprint on it.
Additionally, defendant Man Ka-kin, 21, did not appear in court. His lawyers said they contacted him at 1:30 am but did not receive a reply and his sister said he did not return home the night before. The court has issued a no-bail arrest warrant.