Tears, defiance as activist trio jailed

Top News | Sophie Hui 3 Dec 2020

Former Demosisto activists Joshua Wong Chi-fung, Agnes Chow Ting and Ivan Lam Long-yin have been jailed for between seven and nearly 14 months for staging a siege of police headquarters during last year's unrest.

Wong was sentenced to 13-and-a-half months, Chow 10 months and Lam seven months.

Wong, 24, Lam, 26 and Chow - who will be 24 today - earlier pleaded guilty in West Kowloon Magistrates' Courts to inciting people on Harcourt Road in Admiralty to join an unauthorized assembly on June 21 last year.

Wong also pleaded guilty to organizing the assembly but not guilty to taking part in an unauthorized assembly, a charge that was effectively dropped.

Chow pleaded guilty to taking part in an unauthorized assembly.

Magistrate Lily Wong Sze-lai said the trio's case involved a breach of public order and safety and a threat to public safety and the court had to pass a deterrent sentence to safeguard public safety and property. Wong incited others to challenge police authority "in the capacity of a leader," magistrate Wong said.

Chow cried upon hearing her sentence. It would be her first time in prison, unlike Wong and Lam.

Her lawyer said she plans to appeal. Her bail request was denied.

Before being escorted out of court, Wong shouted to his supporters: "I know the days ahead will be difficult, but hang in there!"

Lam also shouted: "I have never regretted it!"

Wong later said through his lawyer: "It's not the end of the fight. Ahead of us is another challenging battleground.

"We're now joining the battle in prison along with many brave protesters, less visible yet essential in the fight for democracy and freedom for Hong Kong."

Magistrate Wong said the trio's roles were slightly different but they were all active participants.

They committed the offense in a joint enterprise, which made the case more serious, and they had different tasks on the day where someone made appeals, someone did the planning and someone did back-up, she said.

"The three defendants committed the offense under the prevailing circumstances of increasing incidents of social unrest and large-scale public protests, making the case more serious," magistrate Wong said.

"Joshua Wong organized a protracted assembly of a large scale with a significant number of participants and a huge impact," she added.

The assembly he organized led to a breach of public order, a threat to personal safety, severe traffic congestion, damage to public property and obstruction to public services, she said, adding that his actions challenged the authority of police.

She said "Joshua Wong clearly took a more active role and committed the incitement offense in the capacity of a leader" so the court adopted a higher starting point for his sentence.

Magistrate Wong said Chow took an active part at the assembly as she stayed at the police headquarters for about 15 hours, kept chanting slogans and assisted Wong.

Although all three defendants had pleaded guilty, only Chow got a one-third discount on her sentence.

Some members of the public cried outside the courtroom after hearing the jail terms, while several others opened a bottle of champagne to celebrate.

Britain's foreign minister, Dominic Raab, urged Hong Kong and Beijing authorities to stop their campaigns to stifle opposition.

"Prosecution decisions must be fair and impartial and the rights and freedoms of people in Hong Kong must be upheld," he said.

Amnesty International's Asia-Pacific regional director, Yamini Mishra, said: "Their convictions should be overturned without delay and they must be released immediately and unconditionally."


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