Flag-burning activists' sentence reduced

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 March, 2014, 7:09pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 March, 2014, 7:10pm


Two activists earlier found guilty of attempting to burn a Hong Kong flag had their sentence reduced after winning an appeal against sentence.

But Koo Sze-yiu, 67, and Ma Wan-ki, 19, lost their bid to overturn their convictions, failing to persuade the High Court that the offence of desecrating the Hong Kong flag was unconstitutional for restricting freedom of expression.

Mr Justice Derek Pang Wai-cheong, of the Court of First Instance, today sentenced Koo to two months’ imprisonment, to be suspended for a year. Koo had been sentenced to a four-month jail term, suspended for a year.

Ma was ordered to perform 110 hours of community service, down from the previously length of 230 hours. Ma had completed all the hours required by the new sentence.

Koo and Ma, of the League of Social Democrats were convicted in June last year of trying to set fire to the flag during a protest against alleged Beijing interference in local affairs outside the central government liaison office in Western on April 1, 2012. They were holding a lighter and glowing newspapers when stopped by police.

Pang said it was no doubt carrying a glowing object in a crowded place was a dangerous act. But he ruled that the original sentence were manifestly excessive.

He said that when considering the sentence, he took into account that no flammable solution was used; that no one was hurt and that their behaviour appeared to be spontaneous.