Former Hong Kong Baptist University student leader Keith Fong, who was arrested in August 2019 after buying 10 laser pointers, has been acquitted of possessing offensive weapons. However, he has been convicted of two other charges linked to his laser pointer purchase.

District Judge Douglas Yau ordered Fong to be remanded into custody on Wednesday, after finding the ex-students’ union president guilty of resisting a police officer during his arrest and perverting the course of justice for resetting his phone before it was seized as evidence on August 6, 2019, during the early months of the anti-extradition bill protests and unrest. The 23 year old will face sentencing on March 3.

Keith Fong District Court
Former president of the Hong Kong Baptist University student union Keith Fong photographed outside the District Court on December 6, 2021. Photo: Citizen News.

According to local media, the judge refused to accept the defence’s argument that the laser pointers were bought for stargazing. Yau said the blue light rays emitted from the pointers purchased by Fong were not suitable for looking at the night sky, and the student was also not a member of the university’s stargazing society.

But the court ruled that while it was “suspicious” for Fong to buy 10 laser pointers, it was difficult to determine how he would actually use them. Yau said the university student was not at the scene of a protest and there were no batteries inside the devices.

The prosecution failed to prove Fong committed the offence of possessing offensive weapons in a public place, Yau said.

Fong was apprehended by a group off-duty Organized Crime and Triad Bureau officers who were shopping on Apliu Street, where they “coincidentally” saw Fong buying laser pointers from a hawker, according to police testimony during the trial.

laser protest august 7 china extradition tsim sha tsui
A Hong Kong protester shines a laser pointer at the Hong Kong Space Museum in Tsim Sha Tsui in 2019. Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

Yau said the police had been reasonable to conduct a stop and search, and the officer had shown his identification document to Fong, local media reported. The university student had resisted the police, the court ruled, as he must have known the person stopping him was an officer. His repeated requests for the officer’s warrant card were merely to “cause confusion,” the judge said.

Yau also ruled that Fong had reset his phone to obstruct the police investigation, which affected the judicial procedure and criminal prosecution. The judge said the phone was reset while Fong was being treated inside an emergency room, and he was the only person who would have had access to the device.

The court refused to grant Fong bail while he awaits sentencing next month. Yau said that perverting the course of justice was a serious crime and it was likely that Fong would receive a prison term.

Anyone found guilty of perverting the course of justice in the District Court could face up to seven years behind bars, while the maximum penalty for resisting police is two years’ imprisonment.

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Kelly Ho has an interest in local politics, education and sports. She formerly worked at South China Morning Post Young Post, where she specialised in reporting on issues related to Hong Kong youth. She has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong, with a second major in Politics and Public Administration.