Academic weighs in on 'lenient' sentence

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 May, 2014, 4:50am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 May, 2014, 4:50am

A mainland scholar has criticised as too lenient the sentence imposed by the Court of First Instance on lawmakers Wong Yuk-man and Albert Chan Wai-yip for unlawful assembly.

The court on Monday quashed suspended jail sentences of six weeks for Wong and five weeks for Chan, suspended for 14 months, imposed in May last year. The pair had been convicted for continuing a protest after the July 1 pro-democracy march in 2011.

Mr Justice Derek Pang Wai-cheong found the sentence too harsh and instead fined them HK$4,800 each. He also overturned a conviction for convening and organising an unlawful assembly, saying the Eastern Court magistrate had failed to properly explain the evidence.

But yesterday, Peking University law academic Wang Lei, who is also a member of the National Research Council Hong Kong and Macao, said: "When courts hand down judgments, they have to consider the whole social background. We've never seen in Hong Kong things we've seen recently - like trespass at a military site - and challenges to laws." He said activists may be testing the waters for Occupy Central.

Chan said it was strange to see this type of comment on such a case from a Beijing think tank.

The pair plan to appeal to the top court against the remaining conviction, saying it will pave the way for people who intended to join the planned Occupy Central pro-democracy protest.