A political activist who was sentenced to jail for burning and defiling the Hong Kong and national flags in protest against mainland human rights abuses had his sentenced halved on appeal in the Court of First Instance on Monday.
In addition to reducing the sentence of Koo Sze-yiu, 66, from nine months to 4 ½ months on a total of four counts of desecrating the flags, Mrs Justice Judianna Barnes Wai-ling also allowed Koo’s application for legal costs.
Koo was sent to jail on February 7 after being convicted in a magistrates' court of the offences, which took place at two mass protests on June 10, 2012, and January 1, 2013.
Koo appealed against the sentence and in court on Monday defence counsel Martin Lee Chu-ming SC said that the sentence of nine month was too heavy considering the penalty for previous cases ranged from a fine to two weeks in jail or a suspended sentence.
Lee also said that Koo was an “honest person” who did not dispute the prosecution's case that he had desecrated the flags, and that Koo did not believe he had committed any offences. In fact, he even told the magistrates' court he would do it again, Lee told the court.
Barnes noted that Koo, who was not legally represented at the magistrates' court hearing, had told the magistrate not to be sympathetic with him, and that while not admitting to having committed a crime, he did not dispute the fact that he had desecrated the flag, which had saved the court time. This, she said, should be taken into account.
Barnes said she would give the reasons for her ruling on another day.