Former leader of the now-banned Hong Kong National Party Andy Chan was acquitted on Saturday of two counts of assaulting of police officers. The pro-independence leader was also cleared of illegal assembly charges related to a protest in Sheung Shui last year.

A magistrate at the West Kowloon Magistrate Court handed down the judgement citing the prosecution’s inability to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Chan was the individual identified in images taken during the demonstration last July.

Founder of the banned pro-independence Hong Kong National Party Andy Chan speaks to the media outside West Kowloon Magistrates’ Court in Hong Kong on December 12, 2020. Photo: Daniel Suen/AFP.

“This case shows us there has been indiscriminate arrests and charges, and I am lucky to have been acquitted,” Chan told the press after leaving the court house. “But a lot of other people are already harassed by these indiscriminate arrests and charges, even if these prosecutions are unsuccessful in the end.”

“Wherever we Hongkongers are, in prison, the United Kingdom, the US, or Hong Kong wherever, we must persist and survive,” he said. “I hope any HongKonger in any corner of the world will survive and continue to work towards our common goal for the future.”

“Today, I believe Hong Kong is not at its worst. We are at quite some distance from the worst,” Chan said. “How could there be unbroken eggs under a toppled nest? Everyone in Hong Kong will have to face their tribulations, that’s my belief.”

Chan was accused of participating in an illegal assembly in Sheung Shui on July 13, 2019. He was also accused of hitting the helmet of a police sergeant from behind.

In a 24-page decision, a magistrate ruled that the prosecution failed to identify beyond reasonable doubt, that the individuals shown in images taken at the protest were the same person. Since both individuals wore generic black clothing with all but their eyebrows, glasses and ears covered, the magistrate decided there was not enough distinct and identifiable characteristics to identify them.

Chan is the founder of the Hong Kong National Party (HKNP), which was the first society to be prohibited under the Societies Ordinance since the 1997 handover.

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Selina Cheng

Selina Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist who previously worked with HK01, Quartz and AFP Beijing. She also covered the Umbrella Movement for AP and reported for a newspaper in France. Selina has studied investigative reporting at the Columbia Journalism School.