Three people, including two civil servants, have pleaded not guilty to “trespassing” in a government building over the alleged use of a fake version of LeaveHomeSafe, the Covid-19 contact tracing app required to enter such premises.

Immigration assistant Wong Tsz-hin, immigration officer Agostinho Chan and freight worker Man Kim-wai entered their pleas in front of Principal Magistrate Ada Yim at the Eastern Magistrates’ Courts on Monday, local media reported.

leavehomesafe immigration tower
People are required to use the LeaveHomeSafe app to enter the Immigration Tower in Wan Chai. Photo: GovHK.

They were among five people charged with one count of “trespassing in tenement under the control or management of public department.” Two more co-defendants – Mok Koon-hang, an examiner at the Audit Commission and clerk Ng Man-yi – did not enter a plea on Monday and asked for more time to seek legal advice.

The five stand accused of using the fake LeaveHomeSafe app to enter Immigration Tower on November 1 last year, the first day that use of the app to access public facilities became mandatory.

Yim ordered the five defendants to be tried separately.

Anticipated disputes

Wong’s lawyer said witnesses would be called during trial to prove that a link to the alleged fake version of the app was forwarded to the defendant, who mistook it as the official one, the Witness reported. His trial was scheduled for February 14 next year.

The lawyer representing Chan, meanwhile, did not dispute the use of the fake app, but said they would dispute whether their client had “trespassed.” Chan will be tried on February 20.

Eastern Magistrates' Courts
Eastern Magistrates’ Courts. File photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

Man’s representative said they would dispute whether the freight worker knew the app was fake and what constituted “trespassing.” Man’s case will be heard on March 6.

Mok and Ng, meanwhile will have their next hearings in November and December. All defendants were granted bail.

According to the Summary Offences Ordinance, such offence carries a maximum penalty of three months of imprisonment.

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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.