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Occupy Central

Four Occupy activists avoid jail as Hong Kong court fines each HK$10,000 for contempt

Group were given one-month suspended jail terms by judge on Tuesday for their role in 2014 sit-ins

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 28 November, 2017, 8:31pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 28 November, 2017, 11:00pm

Four protesters among a group of 20 activists charged with contempt of court after defying a court order against blocking roads during the Occupy sit-in some three years ago were each fined HK$10,000 and given one-month suspended jail terms by a Hong Kong court on Tuesday.

The four are the co-defendants of 16 other activists including student leader Joshua Wong Chi-fung, who are expected learn their sentences on Thursday next week.

Mr Justice Andrew Chan Hing-wai cited the respondents’ “little education”, “relatively young age”, “limited roles”, “clear records”, or “early plea and remorse” for granting suspended sentences.

But fellow activists believed the “seemingly lenient sentence” could provide some indication on their cases – some of them who played bigger roles in the protest would be sent to jail.

The four sentenced on Tuesday were Cheung Kai-yin, 33, now a community development officer; Ma Po-kwan, 24, an estate agent; Wong Lai-wan, 22, an assistant at a dental clinic; and Yeung Ho-wah, 33, a security guard.

Mr Justice Chan gave Ma six months to pay the fine, having considered his “unstable income”. The other three had to settle the fine in three months. Their one-month jail term would be suspended for 12 months.

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Their cases trace back to November 26, 2014 when a group of 20 people were arrested for refusing to leave when bailiffs, acting on a court order, cleared the Mong Kok protest site on Nathan Road during the Occupy campaign in protest against Beijing’s restrictive framework on Hong Kong’s political reforms.

Having been there to show support for the protesters at the Mong Kok site included Occupy leaders Joshua Wong and Lester Shum, and Raphael Wong Ho-ming of the radical party League of Social Democrats.

Taxi and minibus drivers secured the court order, complaining that the protests blocking Nathan Road, one of the busiest thoroughfares on the Kowloon side, were affecting their livelihoods.

The Department of Justice then started contempt of court proceedings against those arrested. Eleven of them, including Joshua Wong and Lester Shum, pleaded guilty in July.

But nine, including Raphael Wong, contested the charge but were eventually convicted last month.

The common law offence of contempt of court carries no maximum sentence but can range from a fine to a jail term, according to lawyers.

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Joshua Wong, who led some 20 fellow activists to stage a brief rally outside the High Court building in Admiralty on Tuesday to show support for the four, said: “It is flatly political persecution. But we will not be frightened off.”

Raphael Wong also said the sentences of the four seemed lenient and was pleased to see they escaped jail. But he said he was prepared to be sent to jail. “Mr Justice Chan mentioned limited participation in his judgment. But Joshua, Lester, or me, could be seen as having a bigger participation.

“But I am not afraid of being sent to jail. I am just worried that Hong Kong people would be scared off and would choose to keep silent in the face of injustice.”