Prosecutors won’t seek harsher sentences for ex-student leaders in HKU council meeting siege
Billy Fung and Colman Li were given 240 hours and 200 hours of community service respectively
Prosecutors have decided not to seek a review of the community service sentences handed to two former student leaders for their roles in a chaotic siege of a University of Hong Kong council meeting last year.
The decision stood in contrast with recent rulings against 16 young protesters, including three student leaders, who saw their community service sentences replaced by prison terms.
Replying to media queries, a spokesman for the Department of Justice said it would not ask for a review of the 240-hour and 200-hour community service sentences handed out to Billy Fung Jing-en, 23, and Colman Li Fung-kei, 22, respectively.
“Having considered the trial magistrate’s reasons for sentence delivered on September 21, 2017, the prosecuting counsel’s case report, the facts of the case (including whether the defendants’ conduct was premeditated, the degree of violence involved and whether any person was injured), the applicable legal principles, the defendants’ personal background and their attitude towards the offences (including whether there is genuine remorse), as well as the Prosecution Code, the Department of Justice decides not to seek a review of the sentences imposed on the two defendants,” the spokesman said.
In January 2016, Fung led hundreds of students to besiege a meeting of HKU’s governing council at the university’s Sassoon Road campus, pressing for an immediate review of the school’s governance structure.
The protest was sparked by the council’s decision to reject the recommendation of a liberal law professor to fill a key managerial position and the appointment of Professor Arthur Li Kwok-cheung, a close ally of Hong Kong’s then leader Leung Chun-ying, as chairman of the council.
Critics believed the decision not to appoint Professor Johannes Chan Man-mun to the post of pro-vice-chancellor was due to Chan’s close ties to colleague Benny Tai Yiu-ting, a leader of the pro-democracy Occupy protests in 2014.
One female employee was injured and sent to hospital during the incident.
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Fung was found guilty of disorderly conduct in a public place, criminal damage and attempted forcible entry.
Li was charged with obstruction for blocking paramedics as they tried to remove a council member who felt unwell after being kicked in the legs and pushed during the siege.
Last month, two student leaders who stormed the government headquarters compound at Tamar during an illegal protest that triggered the 79-day Occupy sit-ins of 2014 saw their original community service sentences replaced by prison terms. Joshua Wong Chi-fung and Nathan Law Kwun-chung were jailed for six and eight months respectively.
Alex Chow Yong-kang, a HKU graduate, had his initial suspended three-week jail sentence replaced by a seven-month custodial term for his participation in the same protest.
Separately, 13 protesters convicted of unlawful assembly were jailed for between eight and 13 months by an appeal court after prosecutors pushed for tougher sentences. They were originally sentenced to 80 to 150 hours of community service by a lower court in 2016 for storming the Legislative Council complex during a protest over a development project in Hong Kong’s northeastern New Territories in 2014.