A magistrate on Wednesday rejected a bid by prosecutors to have newly elected lawmaker Nathan Law Kwun-chung, student activist Joshua Wong Chi-fung and a third student leader jailed over their roles in storming a forecourt at government headquarters two days before the 2014 Occupy protests began.
Magistrate June Cheung Tin-ngai refused to overturn her earlier ruling after a defence counsel urged her – in a biblical reference – not to become Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor who bowed to crowd pressure to give Jesus away for crucifixion.
Cheung last month sentenced Wong, 19, and Law – both key figures in the 2014 Occupy movement – to 80 and 120 hours of community service respectively.
Chow, 25, was given a three-week jail term suspended for one year.
The trio were found guilty and sentenced in Eastern Court for taking part in an unlawful assembly and inciting others to take part in the protest on September 26.
The city’s prosecutors had called for a review of the sentences, saying the only suitable option should be immediate custodial sentences.
Refusing to jail the trio, Cheung said she had considered all the grounds put forward by the prosecutors in her earlier ruling.
“The court will continue to adopt the previous reasons for sentencing,” she said.
Deputy director of public prosecutions David Leung Cheuk-yin SC told the court that an immediate jail term would be required because the trio’s act was premeditated and the assembly lasted for as long as 10 minutes, resulting in injuries to security guards.
He also said the defendants had lacked genuine remorse, which he said was important for a person to be given a community service order.
Cheung denied that a community service order was light punishment. “If it was light, I would have handed down a fine,” she said.
In sentencing the trio earlier, Cheung said she was reluctant to impose a deterrent sentence as the three had expressed their demands based on genuinely held political ideals or concern for society.