A retiree deliberately enabled the assault of a banking consultant from mainland China during an anti-government protest in Hong Kong’s main business district last year, a court was told on Wednesday.
Swiss-born Marc Gerard Progin, 75, has denied one count of aiding and abetting disorder in a public place over his encounter with JPMorgan Chase employee Lin Nan during a demonstration on October 4. That day, hundreds of demonstrators assembled in Central during lunchtime to protest against a government mask ban, which was to take effect the following day.
Eastern Court heard on Wednesday that protesters besieged Xian-born Lin, 30, after he filmed the gathering outside Chater House, where the American investment bank’s offices are situated.
Video footage played in court showed protesters directing profanities at Lin and repeatedly chanting in Cantonese: “Return to the mainland.”
Lin said in Mandarin: “We are all Chinese,” but was booed by the crowd in return.
The footage showed Lin was unable to return to his office immediately after the exchange because Progin, who was holding a camera, closed the building’s glass door to photograph the bank employee from the front.
Seconds later, a black-clad protester dashed forward, punched Lin from behind and knocked off his glasses. When Lin finally entered the building, another protester hurled an umbrella at him, hitting his head.
Lin sustained bruises on the left shoulder, chest and head, according to a medical report.
While police have yet to arrest the assailants, they apprehended Progin for allegedly instigating the violence.
Public prosecutor Kelvin Tang Ming-chung alleged Progin’s behaviour was deliberate with a view to preventing Lin from leaving the scene and enabling the subsequent attack.
Defence counsel Michael Delaney countered by accusing the bank worker of diluting the evidence about his involvement in the altercation and depicting himself as a complete victim in the incident.
Lin, who moved to Hong Kong in 2008, testified that he took videos of the October 4 protest on his way back to the office after he bought a lunchbox at the Landmark shopping centre.
He was surrounded by about five people moments later, with one of them telling him in English: “We only speak Cantonese here”. He said he felt scared as the crowd grew larger and became aggressive.
“Many people were shouting at me,” Lin said. “Judging from their facial expression and body language, they appeared relatively offensive.”
“When I walked towards the door of the building, I turned around and chanted: ‘We are all Chinese’. In fact, I didn’t think too much at that time. A thought emerged in my mind, and I spoke it.”
Under cross-examination, Lin admitted he had delayed filing a report to police, as he left Hong Kong hours after the incident and took refuge in the neighbouring city of Shenzhen, upon consultation with his seniors. He returned to Hong Kong three days later and resumed work on the following day. He reported the case to police on October 9.
The trial continues before Magistrate Stephanie Tsui May-har on Thursday.
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