The Department of Justice is seeking harsher sentences for activists Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Alex Chow. The trio were earlier found guilty over the Civic Square clash which sparked the 2014 pro-democracy Occupy protests.
The trio appeared before the Court of Appeal for a sentence review on Wednesday morning. According to Wong, both he and Law had already completed their community service sentences.
Wong and Chow were found guilty last July of taking part in an unlawful assembly, while Law was found guilty of inciting an unlawful assembly.
The three lodged an appeal, but prior to the hearing date on May 22, they decided to give up their efforts having received legal advice.
Wong was sentenced last August to a community service order of 80 hours. Law received a community service order of 120 hours, and Chow was given a three-week jail sentence with a one year suspension.
‘Gravity’ of the offence
The Department of Justice was granted leave to appeal their sentences. On Wednesday, the prosecutor said that the court neglected the gravity of the offence. Since there will be an increasing number of crimes in relation to assemblies, the Department of Justice argued, the court should come up with sentencing guidelines for such cases.
The prosecutor also said that the three had in fact used violence, and said the storming of the forecourt at government headquarters was planned.
Randy Shek, counsel for Wong, argued that his client apologised to the security guards hurt during the event and that he was willing to accept the court’s ruling and punishment, thus demonstrating his remorse.
The verdict will be handed down on August 17.
On Tuesday, Law posted on Facebook asking everyone to recognise “the magnanimity of the Hong Kong government… In their eyes, there is only obedience and disobedience, and disobedience is a crime…”
If the court imposes a sentence of over three months, the activists will be prevented from running in elections for public office – including the Legislative Council and District Council – for a period of five years.
The incident took place after a week of class boycotts against the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress’s decision that Hong Kong’s Chief Executive candidates must be vetted before a popular election.
It led to dozens of arrests of protesters inside the square with police later using tear gas to disperse thousands of protesters. A 79-day protest occupying the main road around Hong Kong then ensued.