Radical lawmaker “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung received a relatively lenient sentence – a HK$1,500-fine – for unlawful assembly, in Kwun Tong Court on Tuesday.
A jail sentence of more than one month by Magistrate Don So Man-lung would have opened the possibility of Leung’s impeachment from his recently re-elected seat in the legislature.
Leung had pleaded guilty to not getting police permission before holding a demonstration, which took place after the annual July 1 march last year, in Central. He and five other activists admitted charges related to blocking roads during the march.
Calling the prosecution politically motivated, Leung said the magistrate showed “a lot of leniency”, suggesting So had some sympathy for the demonstrators’ beliefs.
“He might think that some [provisions] of the Public Order Ordinance constituted a violation of human rights of Hong Kong citizens. That’s why he didn’t put a heavy hand on us,” he said outside the Kwun Tong court.
In delivering the judgment, So called the breach of law in question a “minor” one, since the demonstration took place on a weekend evening in a commercial, not residential, district. “The impact on society was low,” he said.
Further, So said the heavy police presence meant that the demonstrators were kept in good order. “There were obviously enough police in the scene – there were ‘mountains and seas’ of them,” So said, citing a Chinese idiom.
“There were just hundreds – and at times only over 100 – gatherers, rather than thousands or tens of thousands of them. So it’s only a slight excess of the statutory threshold of 50.” Leung, outside court, called for the scrapping of the “outdated” regulation that requires police approval for a demonstration of 50 people.
So said: “Overall the demonstration in question was carried out with order, without violence, injuries. It was peaceful, by which demonstrators expressed their views with dignity.”
The same penalty, on the same charges – unlawful assembly and breaching the Public Order Ordinance – was levied against co-defendants Cheung Kam-hung, Chow Nok-hang, Leung Wing-lai, Hung Hiu-han and Shum Tse-kit.