Court sends clear warning: think twice before not taking part in a riot

When the CCP was a toddler, did it pull legs off spiders for fun? A little glimpse of the Party’s irresistible charm and humanity comes with the news that Hong Kong’s prison officials have barred former Democratic Party chair Wu Chi-wai from attending his father’s funeral. 

The authorities cite ‘risks’. The 58-year-old former chair of the moderate and almost semi-establishment Democratic Party is in jail after being arrested and denied bail for taking part in a primary election.

Others are given four-year-plus prison sentences for not taking part in a riot. The judge (who ‘acknowledged there was no evidence they had any actual role in the riot’) is apparently keener on ‘joint enterprise’ than ‘beyond all reasonable doubt’. 

And one to watch: journalist Bao Choy will appeal her conviction for accessing public vehicle licensing records for the ‘wrong’ reasons. This could be risky if the prosecutors take the opportunity to get her sentence increased. No vindictiveness is too much trouble.

On related matters…

A Georgetown Law study of NatSec law/NatSec police arrests finds patterns – for example, none of the arrestees are actually threats to national security but are peaceful critics of the government. 

Hong Kong Watch’s latest list of those arrested for protesting. 

A new website Know Your Rights HK offers legal advice. (Background in news report here.) The site seems to assume that we have a rule-of-law system in which your rights exist in practice and independent courts will check politicized law enforcement and prosecutors.

A back-up of some RTHK content (will the newly ‘patriotic’ broadcaster try to use copyright to take these items down?)

Al Jazeera on Mainlanders who moved to Hong Kong for its freedoms and now see those freedoms slipping away.

I am delighted to round the week off with an announcement that, for the second year running, the Annual Best Annual Award Award goes to the John McCain Prize for Leadership in Public Service. Last year, the Prize provoked prime Panda-petulance when it went to the people of Hong Kong. And this year – in a move that ‘could infuriate/likely displease’ China – it goes to President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan. 

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10 Responses to Court sends clear warning: think twice before not taking part in a riot

  1. Knownot says:

    In practice, ‘joint enterprise’ can be so unjust it is almost mad. This is from the London Review of Books in 2014.

    [‘joint enterprise’ R. v. Gnango] In December 2009 Anthony Hooper and four other judges heard Armel Gnango’s appeal against his conviction for murder, attempted murder and possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life. Gnango was 17 in October 2007, when, armed with a gun, he went out looking for a man who owed him money. He found the man, who was wearing a red bandana over his face, in a car park on an estate in New Cross. Bandana Man, as he is referred to in the case, started shooting at Gnango, who returned fire. Missing his target, Bandana Man instead hit and killed Magda Pniewska, a 26-year-old Polish care worker who was walking past, talking to her sister in Poland on her mobile. Gnango identified Bandana Man, but he was never charged: the police were unable to get sufficient evidence against him. But Gnango was charged and convicted of murder even though the first, fatal bullet had been intended for him. The judge advised the jury that the two men were in a joint enterprise to commit this crime. Hooper and his fellow judges quashed the conviction on appeal. Gnango and Bandana Man could not, they reasoned, have had a common purpose; their intentions were in opposition to each other.

    The case went to the Supreme Court, which reinstated the conviction.

  2. Stanley Lieber says:


    “First, we kill all the lawyers.”

  3. Steve Mc Garret says:

    This is a ridiculous decision. It means anyone in the vicinity can be accused of joint enterprise. This is the judiciary rubber stamping the wishes of the DOJ.

  4. dimuendo says:

    Do not forget


    Which (if the link works) is the judgement of the HK Court of Appeal
    on 25 March 2021 saying do not have to be present to be convicted by joint enterprise.

    So law aimed at the absent Mr Big instigating and in charge fellonious activity now applied to people not present at scene of riot.

    So now you can be not present or present but not participating you are still as guilty as the actual petrol bomber or walker on the unauthorised assembly.

    Why should you have to have permission to assemble?

    While Mary’s citation of Jack Cage is apt (and I am a lawyer albeit unsuccessful and thus impoverished) my favourite quotation is “The law is an ass” , particularly when used for malign purposes.

  5. dimuendo says:

    Try this?

    Or judiciary website, enter 25 March 2021 and Poon, third judgement down of the five.

    But ultimately comes down to the prosecution, and the court not nay saying them.

  6. Steve Mc Garret says:

    Those of you with long memories may recall the Derek Bennet trial from the 1950’s where he was convicted of a murder he was present at and hanged.

  7. Steve Mc Garret says:

    Derek Bentley. Got the name wrong.

  8. dimuendo says:

    Bentley was 19 and under arrest when his companion Christopher Craig pulled the trigger of the gun that killed the policeman.

    Bentley hung . In the 1990s his conviction to murder, on the basis of joint enterprise murder with Craig, was overturned. He was subsequently posthumously pardoned. Much good it did him as he had been dead 30 years.

    Craig who was under 18 (16?) and thus could not be hung served 10 years in prison.

    No comments on the latest prison sentences, including on that noted old lag recidivist, Joshua Wong?

  9. donkey says:

    Some of you will now think twice before going out to buy art supplies.

  10. Low Profile says:

    By the logic of the judge in the riot case, sitting in the stands watching the “joint enterprise” of a football game is legally equivalent to being on the pitch playing the game.

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