HK activist Joshua Wong wins appeal to reduce jail sentence by 2 months over role in banned Tiananmen vigil

21-Jan-2022 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 5:02 AM Print This Post

Imprisoned Hong Kong opposition activist Joshua Wong Chi-fung has won an appeal to reduce his 10-month jail term by one-fifth for his role in a banned Tiananmen Square vigil two years ago.

The Court of Appeal on Wednesday also ordered that two months of the sentence should be served concurrently with the 171/2 months he had received for two other cases.

The rulings by Justices Maggie Poon Man-kay and Anthea Pang Po-kam shortened Wong’s current sentence to 231/2 months, for his involvement in three unauthorised assemblies since the social unrest began in 2019.

But he will still face a national security law case for his alleged role in an unofficial Legislative Council primary election in 2020, for which he was denied bail.

Wong was jailed for 10 months in May, after admitting that he had knowingly taken part in an unauthorised assembly, an offence punishable by up to five years in prison, at Victoria Park in Causeway Bay on June 4, 2020.

The District Court previously heard that the candlelight vigil drew about 20,000 participants, despite police banning the annual event for the first time since 1990 amid concerns over the risk of Covid-19 infections.

During sentencing for Wong’s role in the vigil, Judge Stanley Chan Kwong-chi had said that his guilty plea was the only mitigating factor since he had “openly defied the law” with his deliberate and premeditated involvement.

At the High Court on Wednesday, Wong’s counsel Steven Kwan Man-wai conceded that imprisonment was warranted in the present case, but argued that Chan had imposed a “manifestly excessive” jail term.

Kwan submitted that a more appropriate starting point for sentencing would have been 11 months, instead of the 15 months ordered by Chan, before considering the application of a one-third discount in recognition of Wong’s timely guilty plea.

But acting senior assistant director of public prosecutions William Siu Kai-yip countered that the sentence was “totally justified”, as Wong was a repeat offender and had played a “very active” role in the incident ‘by giving interviews and uploading photos to social media ‘while on court bail.

Siu said that Wong had also organised and incited others to join the 15-hour siege of police headquarters just four days after he was released from prison in June 2019, for which he was jailed for 131/2 months in December 2020.

“He repeatedly disregarded the law,” Siu added, arguing that Wong had also taken part in an anti-mask rally and flouted a government-imposed ban on facial coverings in October 2019, for which he was jailed for another four months last April.

The prosecutor also said Chan was justified in ordering the 10-month sentence to run consecutively to the previous two jail terms because the three cases were separated by time and objective.

But the higher court sided with Wong and allowed his appeal.

Wong’s co-defendant, 27-year-old former district councillor Jannelle Rosalynne Leung, who completed her sentence in July, also challenged her four-month jail term but was unsuccessful.

The court will give their reasons for the decision in a judgment to be handed down at a later date.


Category: Hong Kong

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