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Thursday, Dec 08, 2022

Court hears of brickbats for police

Comments made by readers of the social media platforms of now-defunct pro-democracy online media Stand News were filled with curses at the police force, calls for independence for Hong Kong and criticisms of the government, the district court heard yesterday.
The exact nature of that invective came to light yesterday in testimony before judge Kwok Wai-kin by a national security policeman.

He read aloud the comments in a bid to prove seditious intent by former Stand News editor-in-chief Chung Pui-kuen, 52, acting editor-in-chief Patrick Lam Shiu-tung and its holding company Best Pencil (Hong Kong).

The firm and the editors pleaded not guilty to one count of conspiracy to publish seditious publications.

The policeman, Tang Wai-kuen, quoted a comment on Stand News' Instagram post that said the police should "go to hell."

Another on its Facebook page read: "Totalitarianism is evil itself."

A third comment read: "Who cares about dog security department, I support Hong Kong independence. What can you do?"

On former lawmaker Nathan Law Kwun-chung, now in self exile in Britain and former Stand News reporter Gwyneth Ho Kwai-lam - held on national security charges over the 2020 primary election - supporters also left strong words.

"It's difficult to find words better than foul language to describe the government and "black cops," one wrote.

Another said of Law: "He brings Hongkongers' dreams to the outside. Thank you very much for voicing out for us."

Senior assistant director of public prosecutions Laura Ng Shuk-kuen said she will elaborate in her closing remarks how the comments constitute sedition offenses.

For the defense, senior counsel Audrey Eu Yuet-mee argued Stand News and the editors had no control over people's likes or criticisms for its posts, or who can make what kind of comments.

The judge agreed but asked: "Can the comments be deleted?"

"What is the effect of keeping the comments until they were screen captured [by the police]?" Kwok asked.

The hearing continues today.

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