‘Long Hair’ Leung Kwok-hung wins appeal against jail sentence over protest aimed at Carrie Lam three years ago
Judge rules penalty for ousted lawmaker and co-defendant was ‘manifestly excessive’ given their peaceful manner in incident at school debate event
Ousted opposition lawmaker “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung on Tuesday won his appeal against a jail sentence over a protest three years ago that was aimed at then chief secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, now the city’s leader.
Instead, Leung, 62, from the League of Social Democrats and his co-defendant Tam Tak-chi from People Power, were each fined HK$3,000 by the High Court.
Both were convicted in 2016 of disrupting the 30th Sing Tao Inter-School Debating Competition, held by the newspaper group at Queen Elizabeth Stadium in Wan Chai in May 2015.
The two were among a bigger group that waved banners and shouted slogans in defiance of Lam, then the city’s No 2 official, who was the guest of honour at the event. Lam became chief executive in 2017.
Leung was jailed for seven days by a magistrate court over the incident, but out on bail pending his appeal. Tam was jailed for a week but had his term suspended.
On Tuesday, High Court Judge Mr Justice Wilson Chan Ka-shun, who presided over Leung and Tam’s appeal, ruled the sentences were “manifestly excessive” because the pair’s peaceful manner during the protest was not reflected.
“[Leung] had, from start to finish, been merely chanting slogans with a megaphone and had not resorted to force or violence to express his demands,” he wrote.
The judge also noted the protest did not cause any actual damage. “Even though the applicants had caused disturbance, they had not obstructed the proceeding of the event in an actual sense,” he said.
On the day, protesters were channelling their ire at Lam, the official in charge of pushing for a legislative election reform proposal which was deemed restrictive and unacceptable by pan-democrats.
Dozens of protesters inside the stadium shouted, waved banners and threw paper balls when Lam was escorted into the venue. She eventually left early and cancelled her speech.
Chan’s decision came amid Leung’s string of criticisms of the lower court’s acting principal magistrate Joseph To Ho-shing, who handed out the jail sentences.
On Tuesday, ahead of the appeal result, Leung repeated his comments, questioning To’s insistence on overseeing the earlier trial even though the case was originally placed before another magistrate.
“Shame on political prosecution,” Leung, who has been jailed for various offences arising from his activism, chanted at the High Court’s doors.
In 2016, he was accused of misconduct in public office for failing to declare a HK$250,000 payment from media tycoon Jimmy Lai Chee-ying, an allegation later proven by a court to be unsubstantiated.
While considering the appeal, Chan on Tuesday agreed with To’s verdict in finding both activists guilty.
Lawyers for Leung and Tam are expected to tell the High Court on October 9 whether the activists would appeal against the conviction to the Court of Final Appeal.
Leung was last year disqualified from the Legislative Council after the government lodged a controversial legal bid that challenged his oath of office.