Jolovan Wham trial adjourned: Defence calls no witness

Jolovan Wham is contesting charges of allegedly organising a public assembly involving a foreign speaker without a permit, and refusing to sign a statement he made at a police station.
Jolovan Wham is contesting charges of allegedly organising a public assembly involving a foreign speaker without a permit, and refusing to sign a statement he made at a police station.ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

The trial involving civil rights activist Jolovan Wham was adjourned yesterday after the defence closed its case without calling any witnesses to the stand.

Wham is contesting charges of allegedly organising a public assembly involving a foreign speaker without a permit, and refusing to sign a statement he made at a police station.

The hearing began on Monday and was slated to last three days. The defence and prosecution are expected to make submissions on Nov 30 for a verdict to be reached.

Yesterday, the prosecution called two more witnesses to the stand, one of whom was Assistant Superintendent Joan Liu, an investigation officer who had transcribed a video of the event. A segment of the video showed Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong speaking via a video call.

During cross-examination, defence lawyer Eugene Thuraisingam focused on the fact that ASP Liu had called the event a "meeting" in her transcript. He then proceeded to highlight points in the transcript of Mr Wong's speech, and asked ASP Liu if these were part of a "discussion" which took place during a "meeting", to which she agreed.

During Monday's sitting, Mr Thuraisingam had repeatedly asked the three prosecution witnesses if they knew of any disturbance to public order or had concerns for the safety of individuals at the event. All three said they had no knowledge of such a disturbance nor safety concerns.

Wham is said to have organised the public event at The Agora, an indoor event space at Midview City in Sin Ming Lane, on Nov 26, 2016. It featured speeches by freelance journalist Kirsten Han and activist Seelan Palay, as well as Mr Wong.

 
 
 

It was publicised on Facebook and its page showed 7,600 people were invited, with 366 indicating interest in attending.

After the prosecution closed its case, Wham, through his lawyer, said he would not be testifying or calling on any defence witnesses.

Wham, former executive director of migrant worker advocacy group Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics, was charged in court last November. He is now a social worker.

Wham also faces two sets of charges for organising other public assemblies last year without permits and refusing to sign police statements, along with one count of vandalism. But they will be stood down for the time being.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 03, 2018, with the headline 'Jolovan Wham trial adjourned: Defence calls no witness'. Print Edition | Subscribe