The Department of Justice has launched an appeal against the sentencing of four protesters who smashed LegCo’s door during last year’s pro-democracy Occupy protests on the grounds that the conviction is not heavy enough.

Cheng Yeung, Tai Chi-shing, Cheung Chi-pong and Shek Ka-fai, aged between 18-24, were previously sentenced to 150 hours of community service for criminal damage and unlawful assembly.

Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions David Leung Cheuk-yin said at an appeal against the sentencing at the Eastern Magistrate Courts on Tuesday that the protesters should be jailed.

He said the scene was close to becoming “a riot,” and that a community service sentence may not represent how serious the offense was, according to local media.

Protesters using barriers to smash the LegCo glass door.

The prosecutor added that lawmaker Leung Kwok-hung, known as “Long Hair,” was jailed for four weeks for lighter charges after storming a government public consultation in 2014.

The defense argued that the protesters did not enter the premises after smashing the door, which showed they did not have the intention to occupy the building.

The four were among protesters who gathered outside LegCo in November in response to a false rumour that an “Internet Article 23” bill would be passed that day. The “ordinance” was rumoured to impose internet regulations in Hong Kong that could potentially criminalise parodies and memes online. The incident was also seen as an attempt to escalate the stagnant Occupy movement.

Labour Party vice-chairman Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung failed in his attempt to persuade protesters to leave the scene. Protesters used metal barricades and bricks to break the building’s glass doors.

The event was a turning point for the pro-democracy movement, precipitating a split between mainstream pan-democrats and those pressing for more forceful forms of protest.

The hearing was adjourned to August 24.

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.