Alleged Hong Kong pro-independence trio jailed for making explosives designed to cause ‘chaos’
Gang sought to make smoke bombs ahead of key electoral reform vote in 2015
Two alleged advocates of Hong Kong independence were sentenced to 34 and 46 months in prison on Friday for the production and possession of explosive substances in 2015, ahead of a key electoral reform vote in the city’s legislature.
A third man, earlier found guilty of possessing explosives, was also jailed for 26 months.
The judge warned the trio of embarking on a “very dangerous” path, and urged them to reflect on their actions.
Cheng Wai-shing, 31, and Rizzy Pennelli, 24, were earlier found guilty by a seven-member jury of a joint count of conspiracy to make explosives, as well as possessing materials to make them.
Chan Yiu-shing, 36, was found guilty of possessing explosive materials, but was acquitted of a conspiracy charge.
Two other defendants were acquitted.
The case shocked the Hong Kong public at the time after the men – allegedly members of the National Independent Party – were arrested for making smoke bombs.
A police interview played in court earlier revealed Pennelli suggested making smoke bombs to create chaos on the day of the Legco vote to decide whether the mechanism by which Hong Kong’s leader was elected would be amended.
The proposed amendment was seen by some as restricting the city’s democratic development.
After lengthy prosecution and trial procedures, Mr Justice Kevin Zervos delivered the sentences at the High Court on Friday.
Zervos said while no end-product was actually produced or seized, “the ingredients and the know-how to make them were there”.
He added there was no reason for the trio to possess substances capable of making thermite – a product which could product extreme heat – other than for “some untoward purpose”.
There was a greater culpability on the part of Pennelli, the judge said, as he was found with possessing materials for making TATP, a dangerous explosive which can cause loss of life.
In mitigation, counsel John Haynes, for Pennelli, said such possession only reflected his client’s interest in science and experimentation.
Man found with ingredients for smoke bomb at Legco copyright rally: Lighters, masks, gloves also found
“It should be borne in mind that researching explosive substances is one step away from making them and another step away from using them,” Zervos said, before handing down a 46-month sentence for Pennelli.
Zervos admitted it was difficult sentencing Pennelli, describing him as a “very bright young fellow”, and wondered whether he committed the offences due to a lack of maturity or foresight.
Chan, meanwhile, was given a 26-month prison term on one charge, while Cheng received 34 months on two charges.
The trio’s pleas for a reduced sentence were all rejected.
In passing the sentence, Zervos told the trio that nothing would be achieved by using explosives to cause destruction, and hoped they would reflect on their actions and contribute to the community in the future.
Police Superintendent Steve Li of the Organised Crime and Triad Bureau welcomed the sentences, stressing the force would not tolerate any behaviour which may endanger public safety.