A Hong Kong woman jailed for a year for assisting the foiled escape of her boyfriend after he stabbed a police officer has been denied a chance to appeal her conviction.

high court
The High Court. File photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

Cheung Tsz-ching, who did not appear in person at the High Court on Thursday, attempted to challenge a lower court’s December 2022 verdict that she was guilty of perverting the course of justice.

The 27-year-old engineer was the girlfriend of Wong Kwan-wa, who knifed a police officer in the arm on the anniversary of Hong Kong’s Handover to China in 2020. She was accused of helping Wong buy a flight ticket in the hours afterwards.

Wong – who was 24 at the time – was arrested on a UK-bound Cathay Pacific flight that night prior to take-off. He was jailed for five years last October after pleading guilty to rioting and wounding with intent.

Representing Cheung in her leave to appeal on Thursday, her barrister said the lower court did not have sufficient evidence that she knew why Wong wanted to leave Hong Kong.

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Her barrister added that even though the incident was widely reported by media, the identity of the attacker was not shown, The Witness reported.

In response, the prosecution said the lower court judge did not make any legal errors in analysing the case. Even though there was no evidence of who had bought the plane ticket, the fees – for a plane ticket in Wong’s name – were paid for by Cheung’s credit card, the prosecution argued. Therefore, there was sufficient evidence that Cheung had assisted Wong.

Court of Appeal judge Anthea Pang said the case was indisputable and refused Cheung leave to appeal.

‘Judicial justice’

The police force’s relationship with the public reached a low during the unrest in the summer and autumn of 2019. The protests were sparked by a controversial extradition bill and grew into a wider demonstration against the city and Beijing’s governments.

The protests died out in 2020 amid the Covid-19 pandemic and Beijing’s imposition of a national security law.

'we fear no more' sign protester causeway bay 1 July 2020
A protest on July 1, 2020. Photo: May James/HKFP.

The officer stabbing happened on July 1, 2020, the day the security legislation came into force. As in previous years, protesters took to the streets – this time to oppose the Beijing-imposed law – as the city marked the anniversary of the former British colony’s return to mainland China.

The day degenerated into clashes between police and protesters, with tear gas fired and over 370 arrests made.

After Cheung was found guilty in December 2022 over helping Wong, her defence team said in mitigation that she did not play a crucial role and the offence was not premeditated, The Witness reported.

But the judge said that had police not arrested Wong, he could have left Hong Kong with the assistance of Cheung, which would have undermined justice.

cordon arrested protest march five demands 1 July 2020 causeway bay
Police in Causeway Bay on July 1, 2020. File Photo: May James/HKFP.

Over 10,250 protest-related arrests were made during the 2019 demonstrations, police said, about 40 per cent of whom were secondary school or university students.

Of those arrested, police said in February that 2,899 people had been charged. Apart from 800-odd people whose cases were serious and still being investigated, there were almost 6,500 who were yet to be charged.

In mid-March, Commissioner of Police Raymond Siu told reporters that police would announce within the month how they planned to deal with the remaining cases . Almost six months later, police told HKFP the cases were still being reviewed and they had no further updates.

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Hillary Leung is a journalist at Hong Kong Free Press, where she reports on local politics and social issues, and assists with editing. Since joining in late 2021, she has covered the Covid-19 pandemic, political court cases including the 47 democrats national security trial, and challenges faced by minority communities.

Born and raised in Hong Kong, Hillary completed her undergraduate degree in journalism and sociology at the University of Hong Kong. She worked at TIME Magazine in 2019, where she wrote about Asia and overnight US news before turning her focus to the protests that began that summer. At Coconuts Hong Kong, she covered general news and wrote features, including about a Black Lives Matter march that drew controversy amid the local pro-democracy movement and two sisters who were born to a domestic worker and lived undocumented for 30 years in Hong Kong.