Joshua Wong Chi-fung, the young activist who played a key part in Hong Kong’s 2014 pro-democracy street protests, was sent to jail again on Wednesday after he was found guilty of contempt of court.
The student leader, now 21, was handed a three-month jail sentence by a local judge for ignoring a court injunction related to a police street clearance drive during the Occupy campaign more than three years ago.
Wong, who was on already on bail after being convicted in another Occupy-related case earlier, was ordered back into custody, with the judge saying he has no power to grant bail in this instance.
Apart from Wong, the High Court also found 15 other activists guilty of obstructing a court order that police had secured to help them clear the streets in Mong Kok during November 2014.
Raphael Wong Ho-ming, vice-chairman of the League of Social Democrats, was sentenced to four-and-a-half months in jail, while the other 14 received suspended sentences or fines.
Wednesday’s sentencing came after the High Court heard earlier that the activists remained in an “occupied” zone in Mong Kok on Nov. 26, 2014 even after bailiffs announced the court injunction to the protesters and tried to clear the street with police assistance.
Giving his ruling, Justice Andrew Chan Hing-wai said it was clear at that time that blocking streets would not change anything but only affect daily lives of the general public.
Although the court has to protect protesters’ rights, other people’s right of living should be protected as well, Chan said.
Seven of the defendants, including Joshua Wong and Lester Shum Ngo-fai, former deputy secretary general of the Hong Kong Federation of Students, had pleaded guilty to the charge of contempt of court, while the others did no do so.
Pronouncing the jail terms for Joshua Wong and Raphael Wong, the judge ordered that the sentences be executed separately from those the activists received for other cases.
Raphael Wong deserved heavier sentence because he had incited people to disobey the injunction, and because he chose not to plead guilty, Chan said.
After hearing the sentencing, Raphael Wong said his determination to fight for democracy will not change, while Joshua Wong also told his supporters to keep up the battle.
As the judge said he had no power to grant bail to the duo, they were sent to a correctional facility in Lai Chi Kok Wednesday evening to serve time.
Shum and other 13 defendants were sentenced to between one and two months in jail, with suspended sentences of one year to one and a half years. Eleven of them were given fines.
Nathan Law Kwun-chung, chairman of pro-democracy party Demosistō, of which Joshua Wong is secretary-general, said he is disappointed at the ruling.
He criticized the government, accusing it of using courts to solve political problems. Such moves will only intensify social confrontations, Law said.
According to the Demosistō chief, Joshua Wong and Raphael Wong will appeal their conviction.
Senior counsel Lawrence Lok Ying-kam, who represented Joshua Wong, said outside the court that he was somewhat disappointed with the sentencing of his client, adding that the judge could have given lighter punishment.
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