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Legislative Council oath-taking saga

Ousted lawmakers Baggio Leung and Yau Wai-ching jailed for four weeks for storming Hong Kong Legislative Council meeting

Yau and two assistants decide not to appeal against ruling and will be held in custody immediately

PUBLISHED : Monday, 04 June, 2018, 11:42am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 06 June, 2018, 12:21pm

Two ousted pro-independence lawmakers and their former assistants were each sentenced to four weeks’ imprisonment on Monday for storming a Hong Kong Legislative Council meeting room two years ago.

In a strongly worded judgment, acting Kowloon City Principal Magistrate Wong Sze-lai said Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang, 31, and Yau Wai-ching, 27, had committed “acts of violence” and showed no remorse, prompting the court to send a clear message to the public to deter such acts.

“Since they insisted they were honourable legislators at the time, they should not be committing the crime inside the Legislative Council building,” Wong said. “What they did has directly brought harm to the dignity of Legco.”

Leung and Yau were earlier found guilty of taking part in an illegal assembly on November 2, 2016.

All five defendants were initially granted HK$3,000 (US$380) bail pending appeal, on condition they surrender their travel documents.

In a surprise turn an hour after sentencing, Yau’s legal team said she and two of the assistants had decided not to appeal and would be held in custody immediately.

Yau’s Facebook and Instagram pages were later updated with pre-written quotes from ancient Chinese poet Qu Yan’s Li Shao, as she signalled her continued defiance.

“Even as I stood at the brink of life and death, looking back I have no regret,” one of the lines read.

What they did has directly brought harm to the dignity of Legco
Wong Sze-lai, judge

Speaking after being released on bail, Leung said Yau faced “concerns from her family”, but said he had little knowledge of the issue and said they did not get to talk while in custody.

Leung said he would appeal against the ruling because he found it “unbelievable” that a lawmaker could be accused of illegal assembly within the four walls of the legislature.

The criminal charge centred on attempts by the duo and their three assistants to force their way into a side conference room. Before that, Leung and Yau had tried to storm Legco to retake their oaths of office, leading to the session being moved to the smaller room.

The duo were earlier barred from the chamber after their anti-China antics sparked controversy at an oath-taking ceremony in October that year.

In the chaos that unfolded on November 2, 2016 – when all five were accused of storming the Legco meeting room – a woman security guard collapsed, while others were injured in a scrum along a narrow corridor involving the pair’s group, journalists and guards.

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After being found guilty, Yau made a last-minute push for leniency in a two-page typed letter to court, along with two others from a secondary schoolteacher and a commentator.

“For the past half a year, I have … reflected whether there could [have been] a better way to handle the same incident, to prevent it from ever happening again,” Yau said.

She recalled how her “stubbornness and adherence to faith” had affected her concerned parents, saying she felt particularly guilty and indebted to her father, who was diagnosed with nasopharyngeal cancer in 2011 and was still undergoing treatment.

Her lawyers stressed Yau had “zero chance” of reoffending.

Leung did not make a similar plea.

Wong however said Yau felt guilt only towards her parents, not over the criminal acts in question, and the duo not pleading guilty earlier also showed they had no remorse.

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With repeated reference to a ruling by the city’s top court that acquitted Demosisto’s Joshua Wong Chi-fung for storming Civic Square in 2014, the magistrate said regardless of political belief and motive, cases that involved violence would attract a deterrent sentence.

The judge said the five had staged the strike with others, despite an apparent ban on them entering the conference room. She also said the 20 minutes of chaos was not a short period of time.

The duo’s three assistants – Cheung Tsz-lung, 30, Chung Suet-ying, 26, and Yeung Lai-hong, 25 – were found guilty of the same charge for taking part in the episode.