Date
20 October 2017
Activists (from left) Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Alex Chow appear before the court during their sentencing in August 2016. Photo: HKEJ
Activists (from left) Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Alex Chow appear before the court during their sentencing in August 2016. Photo: HKEJ

Appeal court to decide next week on sentence for activists

The Court of Appeal of the High Court began to hear a judicial review application by the Department of Justice, which insisted that three former student leaders deserve harsher sentences for their unlawful acts in a 2014 protest.

The court of three judges will announce their decision on Aug. 17 on whether to accept the Department of Justice’s request after both the prosecution and defense lawyers presented their arguments, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

The defendants-Joshua Wong Chi-fung, Alex Chow Yong-kang and Nathan Law Kwun-chung – were found guilty in July of taking part in an unlawful assembly in 2014.

On Sept. 26, 2014, a few days before the Occupy Movement officially kicked off, the pro-democracy activists stormed a barricaded area outside the government headquarters in an initiative called “Reclaim Civic Square”.

Charges were later brought against the student leaders, who were sentenced by then Eastern Magistrates’ Court Magistrate June Cheung Tin-ngan.

Wong and Law were ordered 80 and 120 hours of community service respectively, while Chow received a three-week jail sentence suspended for one year as the judge took note of his impending studies in Britain.

As the sentences involved no prison time, the Department of Justice asked Cheung to reconsider her ruling, only to be rejected on the ground that she had taken into account all the evidence provided by the prosecution and that non-incarceration penalties were appropriate on the defendants.

The Department of Justice later filed an application for a judicial review to the appellate court.

On Wednesday, the prosecution told the court that the trio knew very well that they would use violence even before they took action, although they claimed it was going to be “peaceful and rational”.

The prosecution noted that the Chinese character for the word “reclaim” (particularly “-claim”) in the name they had given to their initiative, “Reclaim Civic Square”, already implied violence.

As such, they should be jailed immediately, the prosecution said.

The defense lawyers, on the other hand, insisted the three activists had never intended to use violence in the protest but only tried to get a chance to have a dialogue with officials.

After the hearing, Law, who was deprived of his seat in the Legislative Council last month, told media outside the court that they all have prepared for the worst, namely serving time in jail, Apple Daily reported.

Law said they will continue to fight for democracy, although he admitted it is a concern that courts may set more rigid rules for marches and demonstrations.

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TL/JC/CG

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