Former Hong Kong lawmaker ‘Long Hair’ Leung scolds judge for sentencing him to seven days in jail in 2016
At his first appeal hearing, Leung Kwok-hung lashes out at Joseph To Ho-shing, saying magistrate brought shame on legal sector for giving him jail time for disrupting school function during a protest against Carrie Lam in 2015
Former lawmaker “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung on Tuesday accused a judge of bringing shame on Hong Kong’s legal sector for sentencing him to seven days in jail nearly two years ago.
Leung lashed out at then acting principal magistrate Joseph To Ho-shing after his first appeal hearing against the sentence and conviction for disrupting a school debate in protest against Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor in May 2015.
“It’s the shame of Hong Kong’s legal sector,” he told reporters outside the High Court. “It’s a shame.”
Leung and his co-defendant, Tam Tak-chi, an activist with the People Power political group, were convicted in November 2016. Both men were jailed for seven days, with Tam’s sentence suspended for 12 months. Leung has yet to serve his sentence, which is pending the outcome of his appeal.
The case centred on a protest at Queen Elizabeth Stadium during the 30th Sing Tao Inter-School Debating Competition, which invited Lam to be the guest of honour.
Lam, who was chief secretary at the time, left the venue early and cancelled her speech as dozens of protesters inside the stadium shouted, waved banners and threw paper balls when she was escorted into the venue.
Leung and Tam had argued during the trial that the charge against them breached their right to freedom of expression during a peaceful assembly.
But To found they could have staged the protest elsewhere and concluded that Leung and Tam had intentionally “obstructed, disturbed, interrupted or annoyed” other people who were lawfully using the stadium.
The offence is punishable by a HK$5,000 fine and one month in jail, under the Civic Centres Regulation.
In appeal, Leung’s counsel, Douglas Kwok King-hin, argued that the magistrate had “gone too far in limiting the room for protest, to a point that the protest cannot affect anyone”.
He also argued that the organiser, Sing Tao, had limited rights at the venue, despite being granted exclusive rights to use the stadium.
His views were echoed by Tam’s counsel Holly Cheng, who further argued there were no clear regulations over protests in civic centres.
She said the Civic Centres Regulation should not be used to restrict protests.
“To turned the ordinary exercise of civic rights into an offence, I believe that was not what the regulation set out to do,” she added.
But Raymond Cheng Hoi-chung, assistant director of public prosecutions, countered that prosecutors never said there was no right to protest.
“It’s just that they are bound by [the regulation],” he said.
He also said the ordinance must reasonably safeguard the rights of lawful users over those of the protesters since they had applied to book the venue and paid for it.
Meanwhile, Mr Justice Wilson Chan Ka-shun questioned whether the use of violence was needed to warrant imprisonment – a suggestion that prompted Leung to nod with a smile in the dock.
The prosecutor said Leung’s conduct was serious as he continued to affect others both verbally and physically despite repeated warnings.
The judgment will be handed down at a later date.