- 29 defendants aged 17 to 35 accused of a range of offences from unlawful assembly to assaulting police
An Australian private tutor, a Hong Kong Disneyland employee, and 27 other local residents have been charged over a lunchtime protest in Central on Tuesday.
The 29 defendants, aged between 17 and 35, included a District Council election candidate, four students, and individuals from a range of occupational backgrounds such as teaching, acting, stage lighting, engineering and catering.
The 21 men and eight women were among 142 people arrested on Tuesday as the anti-government movement entered its sixth month, with protesters adopting a new strategy of escalating weekday violence.
Australian private tutor Rebecca Louise Nunan, a 32-year-old Hong Kong resident who the court was told had a history of anxiety and mood disorder, was accused of attempting to assault police officers, for allegedly dropping a brick from a pedestrian footbridge between World Wide House and Exchange Square, with a group of officers nearby.
She was released by Principal Magistrate Bina Chainrai on HK$10,000 bail, plus HK$10,000 surety, with the condition she remain in Hong Kong, obey a curfew, and return to Eastern Court on January 9.
The others, except for private tutor Yip Tik-shun, 26, who remains in hospital, were brought before Principal Magistrate Peter Law Tak-chuen at West Kowloon Court to face a joint charge of taking part in unlawful assembly at Pedder Street.
Twenty-six of them were also charged with a second count of using facial coverings while at an unlawful assembly, alleging they have used masks and scarves to hide their identities. One was accused of wearing a full-face piece respirator.
As the hearing finally began after the usual court hours on Thursday evening, 22 defendants, who were taken to court direct from police custody, filed into the small glass dock in uniform short-sleeved grey T-shirts provided by the police. Three other defendants later joined them in hospital clothing.
The Post was told the clothes the defendants wore during their arrests have been taken for forensic examination.
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Among them was social worker Law Cheuk-yung, 22, who is running in the November 24 District Council elections in the King Hing constituency of Tuen Mun, against the incumbent Chan Yau-hoi, from the pro-Beijing Federation of Trade Unions, and Lau Hang-yi, an independent.
The group also included ViuTV actor Joseph Ng Chi-kit, 25, Disneyland actress Pun Yuen-ying, 23, and teachers Chan Hin, 23, and Leung Sing-yin, 25.
Restaurant worker Chan Wai-chung, 25, faced a third charge of possession of a dangerous drug after he was allegedly found carrying cannabis roll, while Yip Pak-hang, a 29-year-old who refused to provide police with his occupation and address, was further charged with another count of failure to produce proof of identity on demand.
Saleswoman Choi Yee-lok, 23, and Hon Po-sang, 29, who is unemployed, were each charged with one count of possession of an offensive weapon or an instrument fit for unlawful purposes, for allegedly carrying a hammer and a can of black spray respectively.
None were required to enter a plea after prosecutors asked for time to conduct further investigations and voiced no objections to bail.
All but two of them were released on cash bails of up to HK$5,000, with the condition that they remain in Hong Kong, report to police, and refrain from setting foot in certain parts of Central.
Their case will return on February 6 next year.
Three other men and two women were also charged over protests in Cheung Sha Wan, Tai Wan and across Hong Kong Island on the same day.
Separately, independence activist Tony Chung Hon-lam, 18, appeared in Eastern Court to face one count of criminal damage, after he allegedly broke a national flag owned by pro-Beijing activist group Defend Hong Kong Campaign on May 14, outside the Legislative Council where lawmakers met to discuss the now-withdrawn extradition bill.
Senior prosecutor William Wong Wa-fun said the prosecution was ready to take a plea, but the defence asked for time to offer legal advice to their client.
Chung, a student who is the convenor of pro-independence group Studentlocalism, was released on a HK$500 cash bail and will appear in court again on December 27.
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