Hong Kong prosecutors urge appeal court to jail three Occupy activists
Lawyers argue that Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Alex Chow were dealt with too leniently for storming government headquarters
Prosecutors have asked an appeal court to jail student activists convicted of storming government headquarters two days before the start of the pro-democracy Occupy protests in 2014, saying the original lenient sentencing sent the wrong message.
It is the second time prosecutors have asked courts to jail Joshua Wong Chi-fung, secretary general of political party Demosisto, Nathan Law Kwun-chung, a disqualifed legislator of the same party, and former student union chief Alex Chow Yong-kang, who were convicted last year.
Wong and Chow were found guilty of one count of illegal assembly. Wong got a community service and Chow received a suspended three-week jail term.
Law, who was recently stripped of his seat on the Legislative Council for insincerely taking his oath last year, was convicted of inciting others to assemble illegally and also given community service.
The offences related to the storming of Civic Square, an area outside the government headquarters in Admiralty popular with protesters.
The appeal could have implications for future cases as prosecutors called for a deterrent sentence for cases of illegal assembly involving violence.
CY Leung considered pardon for Occupy protesters and police, but says he cannot override legal proceedings
Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions David Leung Cheuk-yin attacked the decision by then Eastern Court magistrate June Cheung Tin-ngan to adopt a more understanding approach to sentencing young protesters.
“This is rather dangerous,” Leung said, arguing that it sent the wrong message to young people.
Leung said there was no way the trio did not foresee that their storming would lead to clashes with police and security guards when they and other protesters entered the east wing forecourt of the government headquarters. He added that 10 security guards were injured.
Urging the Court of Appeal to jail the three, he said the offence was serious because it was well planned.
But barrister Edwin Choy Wai-bond, for Chow, described the students as “20-odd-year-old kiddos yelling slogans”.
Choy urged the judges not to impose a deterrent sentence, saying the same effect could be achieved if they specifically warned people not to flout laws.
He said the seriousness of the illegal assembly offence had already been reflected in the legislation, which stipulates a jail term of up to five years.
Court of Appeal vice-president Mr Justice Wally Yeung Chun-kuen and Justices of Appeal Derek Pang Wai-cheong and Jeremy Poon Shiu-chor will hand down their judgment on August 17.