Hong Kong journalist wins appeal at top court over Yuen Long documentary
Hong Kong journalist Bao Choy won an appeal at the city's top court on Monday against her conviction linked to checking vehicle registration records for a documentary about an attack at a train station on pro-democracy protesters in 2019.
Hong Kong journalist Bao Choy won an appeal at the city's top court on Monday against her conviction linked to checking vehicle registration records for a documentary about an attack at a train station on pro-democracy protesters in 2019. The July 21 attack in the northern Yuen Long district by more than 100 people wearing white T-shirts and wielding sticks and poles was one of the most violent scenes of the city's 2019 unrest. Bystanders and journalists were also beaten by the assailants during their attack on the protesters.
A court fined Bao Choy, a former freelance journalist for local broadcaster RTHK, in April 2021 HK$6,000 ($765) after convicting her of making false statements to obtain vehicle ownership records for a documenatary she was producing. Choy, whose documentary was focused on the police handling of the mob attack, had pleaded not guilty.
In a written judgement on Monday, the Court of Final Appeal said a "substantial and grave injustice" was done to Choy by inferring that she knowingly made false statements when accessing the search application data base for vehicle registration records. During the appeal, her lawyer Derek Chan argued that people could only choose from three options on the app, so Choy chose "other traffic and transportation matters" as it involved the use of a vehicle on a road.
The other options included "transport-related legal proceedings" or the "sale and purchase of vehicle". Chan also argued that the prosecution failed to mention press freedom, which is protected under the city's mini constitution.
Convicting Chan last year, lower court judge Ivy Chui had said in her ruling that "the regulations are not intended to allow the public to obtain vehicle particulars without limitations" and that "interviewing and reporting are not related to traffic and transport purposes." For the documentary "7.21 Who Owns the Truth", RTHK obtained data on the ownership of some cars seen in video footage on the night, in a bid to trace those behind the assault and highlight the alleged slow response of police.
($1 = 7.8388 Hong Kong dollars) (Reporting By Justin Fung and Jessie Pang; Editing by Anne Marie Roantree & Simon Cameron-Moore)
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