Hong Kong court gives prison sentences to activists with riot convictions News
VOA, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Hong Kong court gives prison sentences to activists with riot convictions

The Hong Kong District Court jailed 12 activists on Saturday, with sentences ranging from 54 months to 82 months, for their previous riot convictions.

Judge Li Zhihao reasoned that the case was particularly serious because the Legislative Council Complex enjoys “a unique constitutional status and symbolizing meaning” and the activists destroyed the complex with the intention to insult and provoke the government. The incident also triggered a series of protests in the following months. Therefore, the court categorized activists into three groups: leaders and active participants, suppliers, and supporters. The starting points for sentencing were 84 months, 81 months and 78 months respectively.

Among all 12 offenders, six were classified as serious offenders, and their sentences ranged from 54 months to 82 months. One of the defendants, Lam, received a two-month reduction because he had previously been detained by Chinese mainland authorities, resulting in an 82-month prison sentence, the heaviest among all. Owen Chow, also one of the defendants in the Hong Kong 47 case, received a one-fourth reduction for a delayed guilty plea, resulting in a prison sentence of 61 months.

Four defendants were classified as minor offenders, with prison sentences ranging from 55 months to 74 months. These defendants encouraged the activists by being present in the Legislative Council Complex. Counsel for defendant Gregory Wong, a Hong Kong actor, said that Wong only stayed in the Complex a short time. Li refused to accept this and contended that “people like him” could boost still activists’ morale.

Riot is an offence proscribed by Hong Kong’s Public Order Ordinance. The United Nations Human Rights Committee in its Concluding observations on the third periodic report of Hong Kong, China suggested that certain terms in the ordinance, including “unlawful assembly”—also an element for the offence of riot—may facilitate excessive restriction of the rights protected by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The Hong Kong Police Force stated that the sentence reflected the seriousness of the case.