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Thursday, December 15, 2016, 23:01

Former student leader denies death threat against HKU's Arthur Li

By Li Yinze

Former student leader denies death threat against HKU's Arthur Li
Billy Fung appears at Eastern Magistrates' Court on July 22, 2016. (Parker Zheng / China Daily)

HONG KONG - Former president of the student union at the University of Hong Kong (HKU), Billy Fung Jing-en, has pleaded guilty to one count of criminal damage and another of attempted forcible entry, in connection with a violent protest at the university earlier this year, the Eastern Magistrates' Courts heard on Thursday.

Fung, 23, denied one count of criminal intimidation, plus another count of disorderly conduct in a public place.

Magistrate Ko Wai-hung said Fung was suspected to have threatened to “kill” HKU's newly appointed Council Chairman Arthur Li Kwok-cheung when a group of protesters was storming a university council meeting that took place at the Hong Kong Jockey Club Building for Interdisciplinary Research on the campus at Pok Fu Lam in January.

Li, who was allegedly threatened by Fung during the protest, testified the then student leader was shouting, “Don’t let him go, don’t let Li Kwok-cheung go, kill him, kill him,” with intent to provoke violence.

He recalled that some unknown people even grabbed his right shoulder and right arm in the chaotic situation.

"For the first time in my life, I heard someone’s gonna kill me,” Li said. “I felt my life was in danger. I was very scared at that moment.”

Li also believed Fung had incited other protesters to assault him intentionally. “I think Fung is the mastermind of all of it,” Li said.

But Fung denied that he had threatened to injure or “kill” Li.

The prosecutor also played video footage from CCTV and cable news programs in court as evidence against the defendant. Li said the protest would probably have resulted in a deadly stampede if someone had fallen.

Also in the case, another student union member – former student union vice-president Colman Li Fung-kei, 21 – was accused of resisting and obstructing public officers in the performance of public duty. He had pleaded not guilty, the magistrate heard.

The case is slated for a 10-day trial.

The defense has called four witnesses while the prosecution will have 10. They are HKU's President and Vice-Chancellor Peter Mathieson, Pro-Vice-Chancellor Douglas So Cheung-tak, former pro-vice-chancellor Rosie Young Tse-tse and former Hong Kong Economic Journal Monthly chief editor Man Cheuk-fei.

The chaotic scene happened at a HKU Council meeting in January when students surrounded the first council meeting chaired by Arthur Li, opposing his appointment by Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying. Fung was arrested on July 20 at his home in Tsuen Wan.

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