Sentences light or heavy?

Top News | Cindy Wan 25 Apr 2019

The sentences meted out to Occupy leaders were too lenient, lawmakers from the pro-establishment camp said.

Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong lawmaker Priscilla Leung Mei-fun said she felt the sentences handed down weren't harsh enough and thus urged the courts to consider the background of the defendants before handing down lighter sanctions in future, such as suspended sentences and community service orders.

"I don't want to see people in jail for just a few months and earn political capital from it," she said.

Lawmaker Elizabeth Quat Pui-fan from the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong echoed the remarks, saying people told her they found the sentences of the two young movement activists to be too lenient.

Although she was saddened to see young people being jailed for their passionate commitment to Hong Kong, the lenient sentences could give the wrong message that illegal actions might not necessarily lead to severe consequences.

Quat hoped the convicted leaders would receive correctional measures in prison and stop making themselves look like heroes to encourage unlawful conduct.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, before embarking on her journey to Beijing for a Belt and Road forum, would not comment on the sentences. She said the government respects the court's judgment.

She did not see how the freedom of assembly and protest could be affected by the case.

Former police commissioner Andy Tsang Wai-hung, who led the police during the 2014 movement, said the movement hurt the rule of law and social order, and threatened public safety.

The spread of the mindset of not obeying the law has had adverse impacts on society, he said.

Tsang believes the court's judgment showed the public that politics cannot override law and that the concept of "achieving justice by violating the law" does not comply with the rule of law.

Former director of public prosecutions Grenville Cross said the judge tried to be lenient while acknowledging the seriousness of the offenses at the same time.

"Although some people are suggesting the sentences are too lenient, I do not consider that the secretary for justice can successfully challenge them on a review of sentence to the Court of Appeal, as it will not be easy to show either that they are manifestly inadequate, or that this is an 'exceptional' case which justifies a review," he said.

A spokesman from the department of justice said they will study the judges' reasons behind the sentencing and the report of the major prosecutor before deciding whether there will be further follow-up action.

Pro-Beijing online press HKGpao and political organization,the Silent Majority for Hong Kong, initiated a joint signature campaign to urge the department to appeal against the sentencing, saying citizens are angry about the lenient punishment.

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