Wong plays youth card in court

Local | Phoebe Ng 8 Dec 2017

Student activist Joshua Wong Chi-fung has asked the High Court to obtain a probation report about him in his latest bid to avoid being jailed for his participation in the 2014 Occupy movement.

His lawyer, Lawrence Lok Ying-kam, argued yesterday it would "only be appropriate" for the court to base its sentencing on the probation officer's recommendation due to Wong's age - 21.

Wong and 15 other activists were found guilty of criminal contempt of court after obstructing bailiffs from carrying out a court order to clear up a Mong Kok protest zone in November 2014.

The activists were supposed to learn their fate yesterday, but Justice Andrew Chan Hing-wai adjourned on his decision.

During the hearing, Justice Chan remarked that there were not "many options" for criminal contempt of court, and said: "I wonder if probation or a detention order would be possible?"

But he did not see any point in delaying if a probation report was not available.

Lok pointed out Wong was 18 at the time of the Occupy action, making him a young offender. Even if it a probation report was not a priority, Lok said, "perhaps it can provide some background in giving some other penalty."

He quoted from the Criminal Procedure Ordinance, which states that those between 16 and 21 should not be imprisoned unless "no other method of dealing with such a person is appropriate." Lok will next make a written submission for Wong, who made a plea of liability in July.

Justice Chan will also be weighing a submission by Wong to the Court of Final Appeal to argue against a sentence of six months in prison for unlawful assembly.

Twenty protesters were involved in that case, and on Tuesday last week four were sentenced to one month in prison - suspended for 12 months - and fined HK$10,000 each. Seven others including Wong pleaded for leniency, and the court yesterday heard mitigation arguments by the remaining nine.

Lok represented three of them while counsel Hector Pun Hei mitigated on behalf of six, including League of Social Democrats vice chairman Raphael Wong Ho-ming. "The motive of their actions was a sense of social concern," Lok said in seeking non-custodial sentences. "They all learnt their lesson the hard way."

And Pun said Raphael Wong "cares about the wellbeing of Hong Kong society."

The arrests were on Nathan Road on November 26, 2014, after the group refused to leave an area despite an injunction order.

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