Two regular court goers accused of sedition have a case to answer, a Hong Kong magistrate has ruled. The charge against Chiu Mei-ying, 67, and Garry Pang, a 59-year-old pastor, stems from an alleged disturbance that occurred during a hearing in January.
The pair, who are suspected of “uttering seditious words” in court in January, appeared in front of Cheng Lim-chi at the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts on Wednesday.
The prosecution, led by acting assistant director of public prosecutions Betty Fu, finished presenting its case after questioning six witnesses, including several police officers and a court security guard, over the course of eight days.
Pang, who faces another charge of committing “acts with seditious intention” for operating a YouTube channel that mainly published videos about court cases related to the 2019 protests and who represented himself in court, also cross-examined those witnesses.
‘Out of love for Hong Kong’
Pang tried to convince the court to dismiss the case against him, arguing that the prosecution had insufficient evidence to charge him with sedition. He said the YouTube videos he uploaded, in which he criticised Hong Kong judges and the legal system, were “out of love for Hong Kong,” and had no seditious intent.
Pang made remarks such as “laws have been used as a tool to quash dissent,” and said that the legal system had been “weaponised” in his live streams.
Pang said the sedition law stated that “an act, speech or publication is not seditious by reason only that it intends to point out errors or defects in the government or constitution of Hong Kong as by law established or in legislation or in the administration of justice with a view to the remedying of such errors or defects.”
He further cited international rights organisation Amnesty International using phrases such as “weaponising the sedition law to restrict freedom of express” in a newspaper article. Pang said the choice of words was similar to his, arguing that his remarks were not seditious.
Pang also responded to the allegation that he had clapped during the sentencing of pro-democracy activist Chow Hang-tung in January, and told people to stand up if they had also applauded. He said he was not making seditious remarks when he told people to stand, instead he was “encouraging them to shoulder their responsibility” and to be a law-abiding citizen.
In concluding his submission, Pang reiterated that he only made those speeches or behaved in those ways because he hoped to “make Hong Kong better.” He also said he had respect for the city’s rule of law and the legal system.
Magistrate Cheng later ruled that there was prima facie for the case, meaning there was sufficient evidence against the defendants. The case will continue on Thursday, with Pang, who opted to testify, taking the stand.
Pang remained in remand, while Chiu continued to be released on bail.