Executive Councillor Ronny Tong says that he believes the Department of Justice will not appeal a court’s decision to give community service sentences to two former student leaders over their protests relating to the University of Hong Kong’s governing council.
The Justice Department has said that it will study the magistrate’s judgment and the prosecutor’s report before deciding whether to follow up on the matter.
Following the controversial appointment of Arthur Li as council chairman in December 2015, students surrounded the venue of the first meeting chaired by Li in the following January at the Sassoon Road campus. They demanded that the council respond to their four demands to reform its structure.
Council members were unable to leave the campus until four hours after the meeting ended. HKU reported the incident to the police after it occurred.
On Thursday, Fung was sentenced to 240 hours of community service for acting in a disorderly manner, attempted forceful entry and criminal damage during the protest.
Fellow student leader Colman Li was sentenced to 200 hours of community service for obstructing public officers in the execution of their duty at the protest, for blocking an ambulance carrying a council member from leaving.
Outside the court following the ruling, Fung expressed his gratitude to his lawyer, family members, friends, and supporters. However, he said he would not make any further comment before the completion of the judicial procedure.
Executive Councillor Ronny Tong said he believed that the ruling was reasonable and understandable, RTHK reported. “Part of the victims also accepted [Fung’s] apology and remorse, they forgave him, and this to the court is persuasive.”
Referring to the earlier decisions to appeal the Civic Square clashes, he said, “Because the cases are very different, I believe the Department of Justice may not appeal this.”
A University of Hong Kong spokesperson told RTHK that it respected the court’s decision.
Responding to the incident, former governor Chris Patten told reporters on Thursday evening that he felt relieved for Fung and his family, and hoped Fung will serve society with his court sentence.
Asked whether he would have called the police if he were the one surrounded by students that day, Patten said that he has been a chancellor in Hong Kong and the United Kingdom for 20 years, and has never asked the police to deal with students. Patten is currently the Chancellor of the University of Oxford.