China: Hong Kong jailed pro-democracy defender is rejected appeal against harsh sentence (Update)Event
- Initial Date
- Apr 29, 2020
- Event Description
Hong Kong independence activist Edward Leung Tin-kei has lost an appeal against his six-year jail sentence for rioting in one of the city�s busiest districts four years ago.
The Court of Appeal on Wednesday also ruled against Lo Kin-man and Wong Ka-kui, who were jailed for seven years and 3� years respectively for rioting on the same night of February 8, 2016, in Mong Kok.
In rejecting the applications, Mr Justice Jeremy Poon Shiu-chor said the trial judge was entitled to pass punitive and deterrent sentences on the trio, whose rioting offences had an immediate and extremely serious impact on the rule of law.
�Sentencing for the offence of riot must reflect the law�s determination to maintain public order, and send a clear message to society and the public that the law does not condone the breach of public order by means of violence,� Poon said, adding that one�s personal belief could not be a mitigating factor.
Poon, chief judge of the High Court, said the offences Leung, 28, committed were extremely serious as he had witnessed how the events unfolded but chose to remain at the scene despite the escalating violence.
He said that, while the trial judge did err in assessing Leung�s liability in the unrest, his overall jail term was not manifestly excessive given the severity of the offence.
The court also dismissed the appeals by Lo and Wong against their sentences, and Lo�s separate appeal against his conviction.
Leung�s lawyers said they would study the appeal court�s judgment before determining whether to lodge a final appeal at the top court. He was expected to serve out his sentence in January 2022.
Leung was the poster boy for the city�s pro-independence movement and the former convenor of the group Hong Kong Indigenous.
He rose to prominence while running in the 2016 Legislative Council elections, but was subsequently banned from taking part for advocating Hong Kong independence, and was jailed in 2018 for his role in the riot.
Leung and Lo were both convicted of rioting during the Mong Kok unrest, which erupted on the first night of the Lunar New Year. Leung and Wong also pleaded guilty respectively to assaulting a police officer and rioting.
During the trial at the Court of First Instance, prosecutors said the riot started out as a scuffle between hawker control officers and street vendors, but quickly descended into violence, during which some 500 protesters set fires on the streets and threw bricks and other objects at police.
A jury found Leung guilty of taking part in a riot on Argyle Street, where he also attacked a traffic officer with a wooden board. The jury also found Lo guilty of rioting on Portland Street at an earlier time.
Madam Justice Anthea Pang Po-kam, who jailed the trio, said the mass unrest was �organised violence� which could not be mitigated by a person�s political aspirations.
At the appeal court, lawyers for the trio argued their sentences were excessive.
Leung�s lawyers said Pang had wrongfully taken into account various aggravating factors in her sentencing consideration, including Leung�s presence in the riot on Portland Street although he was not convicted of taking part.
But the contention was rejected by Poon and appeal justices Carlye Chu Fun-ling and Derek Pang Wai-cheong.
The judges observed that, having witnessed how protesters clashed with police on Portland Street, it was only reasonable for Leung to infer that protesters on Argyle Street would launch similar attacks on officers there, but he still chose to take part.
While accepting that the trial judge was wrong in making Leung liable to an arson incident near the scene despite his lack of involvement, the judges said Leung�s sentence was justified given he had joined a group attack against officers for no reason.
�Even if [Leung�s] motive was to protect local traditions and culture, this could not lessen his culpability for rioting and unjustified use of serious violence on a police officer,� Poon said as he explained the ruling on behalf of the court.
The disturbance in Mong Kok saw 91 people, aged 14 to 70, arrested for rioting, taking part in an unlawful assembly, assaulting police officers or other offences. Of those, 64 were charged and 33 convicted.
Leung still had some supporters while in prison. Last year, he made an emotional appeal from behind bars, urging Hong Kong protesters �not to be dominated by hatred� amid the escalating unrest triggered by the now-withdrawn extradition bill.
- Impact of Event
- Gender of HRD
- Denial Fair Trial
- Judicial Harassment
- Rights Concerned
- Right to fair trial
- Right to liberty and security
- Pro-democracy activist
- Event Location
- Summary for Publications
On 29 April 2020, Edward Leung, jailed pro-democracy defender, was rejected the appeal against harsh jail sentence by the Court of Appeal in Hong Kong, China.