The Court of Appeal ruled on Thursday that Joshua Wong Chi-fung, a key leader of the 2014 Occupy Movement, should be punished for ignoring a court injunction in the clearance of a protest site, despite the fact that he had just turned 18 at the time.
However, the court decided to reduce his sentence to two months from the three-month jail term handed by the High Court in January last year, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
It ordered Wong, now 22, to serve the sentence immediately.
Wong, the secretary-general of the pro-democracy party Demosistō, was sentenced to three months in jail after he and several other activists were found guilty of contempt of court for obstructing bailiffs clearing the Occupy protest site in Mong Kok in November 2014.
Wong was released on bail six days after he was jailed, pending the outcome of his appeal filed with the Court of Appeal against the sentence.
In a hearing held in April this year, Wong’s lawyer Lawrence Lok Ying-kam told the court that there’s no evidence to show Wong had led others to defy the injunction, saying Wong had simply asked questions to bailiffs in an attempt to allay the concerns of other protesters, RTHK reported.
The lawyer also said Wong’s young age at the time should have been taken into account in the sentencing and urged the court to consider a suspended prison term.
In the ruling, the court said the fact that Wong was only 18 when he committed the offense was indeed a factor that must be considered but it was not sufficient to qualify Wong for non-incarcerated punishment.
It said it agreed with the High Court judge’s decision that only immediate imprisonment can reflect the seriousness of the case.
In handing down the judgment, a panel consisting of three judges pointed out that Wong’s criminal contempt was “grave and contemptuous”, and what Wong did then was a direct challenge to the court and must be served with a deterrent sentence.
If the course of justice is perverted or damaged, the whole judicial system will lose its authority and credibility, and this may cause Hong Kong to suffer from immense and irreparable harm, Justice Jeremy Poon Shiu-chor said.
Demosistō expressed disappointment with the ruling, noting that those who take part in non-violent civil disobedience should not be prosecuted, RTHK reported.
Wong will discuss with his legal team before deciding whether to appeal against the two-month sentence, it added.
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