Hong Kong Democratic Party chairman Lo Kin-hei has been barred from leaving the city, after the Department of Justice (DoJ) filed an appeal against his acquittal in an unlawful assembly case linked to the 2019 anti-extradition bill protests.

The former Southern District Council chairman was rearrested by the police on Wednesday, a week after the District Court cleared him of participating in an unlawful assembly around the Hong Kong Science Museum in Tsim Sha Tsui on November 18, 2019.

Democratic Party Chairperson Lo Kin-hei (left) and ex-lawmaker Emily Lau (right) arriving at the District Court on November 30, 2022. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

Lo told HKFP that the police originally visited his residence with an arrest warrant, but he was not at home. He then reported to Mong Kok Police Station at around 3 p.m., before he was brought to the High Court for settling his bail arrangement.

The democrat was granted a HK$5,000 cash bail and was ordered not to leave Hong Kong pending the appeal. He was also asked to surrender his travel documents.

Campus siege

On November 18, 2019, crowds gathered near the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) to show support for protesters who were besieged by the police at the Hung Hom campus after violent clashes broke out.

Lo, who was arrested almost eight months after the unrest, had told the District Court that he was on the scene to observe what was happening. He was “unaware” of the police categorisation of the campus occupation as a riot and “did not know” that people were told to avoid going to the blockaded area, he said.

District Judge Ernest Lin had questioned Lo’s knowledge of the campus unrest as being “too narrow” and said he had “reservations” about the politician’s honesty. But there was insufficient evidence to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the democrat had indeed taken part in the unlawful assembly, Lin ruled last Wednesday.

Two water cannon trucks disperse protesters near Hong Kong Polytechnic University in November 2019. Photo: Jimmy Lam/United Social Press.

The DoJ confirmed the appeal with HKFP, saying the challenge was filed by “way of Case Stated” from a decision of the trial judge. It means the department believed the acquittal was wrong in point of law.

The Democratic Party said on Wednesday that it would provide support to its chairman and his family in light of the appeal.

“The party will firmly continue to speak out for Hong Kong people, based on One Country, Two Systems and the interests of Hong Kong people,” the party’s statement read.

Support HKFP  |  Code of Ethics  |  Error/typo?  |  Contact Us  |  Newsletter  | Transparency & Annual Report

Support press freedom & help us surpass 1,000 monthly Patrons: 100% independent, governed by an ethics code & not-for-profit, Hong Kong Free Press is #PressingOn with impartial, award-winning, frontline coverage.

Kelly Ho

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.