A woman who tried to overturn her conviction related to a protest at the Chinese University of Hong Kong in 2019 had her bid rejected after the Court of Appeal ruled that the initial judgement was “irrefutable.”

Tang Hei-man was jailed for three years and nine months last July for rioting and violating the anti-mask law on the CUHK campus on November 12, 2019.

CUHK Chinese University riot November 2019
Protest scenes from the Chinese University of Hong Kong in November, 2019. Photo: Supplied.

During the initial trial presided over by District Judge Clement Lee, Tang testified that she was at the scene to immerse herself in a dream-like “sensory world” and find inspiration for her writing.

In the appeal hearing, which took place in front of appellate judge Derek Pang last Wednesday, Tang’s lawyers said the lower court was erroneous because it only accepted her admission of being at the protest, but rejected her reasons for being there.

The initial judge, Lee, had not provided sufficient reasons for doing so, the lawyers argued.

‘Irrefutable’ ruling

In a written judgement explaining the appeal rejection on Wednesday, Pang said that Lee could have explained his thought process in a more detailed way, but said drafting a judgement was not “taking part in a writing competition” and did not require “perfection.”

High Court
The High Court. Photo: Peter Lee/HKFP.

Tang said that she had stayed at the protest scene, Pang added, calling it an “admission against interest” and said that Lee had no reason to rule it out.

“On finding the applicant guilty on the riot charge, the initial judge has provided clear reasonings. His conclusion was irrefutable,” wrote Pang.

As for the conviction against wearing a mask, Tang’s lawyer argued that the court had to prove a person’s participation at an illegal assembly so as to make using a facial covering an offence. But Pang disagreed, saying being present at the site of an illegal assembly was enough for a conviction.

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Almond Li is a Hong Kong-based journalist who previously worked for Reuters and Happs TV as a freelancer, and as a reporter at Hong Kong International Business Channel, Citizen News and Commercial Radio Hong Kong. She earned her Masters in Journalism at the University of Southern California. She has an interest in LGBT+, mental health and environmental issues.