The Department of Justice (DoJ) has asked the court to review its sentencing in a case where 15 protesters opposed to the development of Northeast New Territories stormed the Legislative Council building.

The protesters – which include League of Social Democrats Vice-Chairman Raphael Wong Ho-ming, Land Justice League convenor Willis Ho and activist Billy Chiu – took part in a demonstration against the government’s funding request to develop the Northeast New Territories in June 2014.

NENT protesters
The defendants outside the court. File Photo: 全民反政治打壓運動 via Facebook.

Magistrate Mr Jason Wan Siu-ming found them guilty of unlawful assembly last December, while City University student Leung Hiu-yeung was also charged and convicted of obstructing a police officer. They were each sentenced to serve between 80 and 150 hours of community service at the Eastern Magistrates’ Court in February. In handing down his sentence, the magistrate said that he could see the protesters were trying to fight for other’s rights and stop their homes from being destroyed before the implementation of the policy.

The Department of Justice is now seeking a review of the sentence. “After considering the facts, relevant evidence, applicable laws and previous decisions of similar cases, the DoJ applied to the Court of Appeal for leave to review the sentences of the above case on March 9 in accordance with section 81A of the Criminal Procedure Ordinance,” a DoJ spokesperson said on Tuesday evening.

DoJ banner
Department of Justice. Photo:

Under the relevant section, the Secretary for Justice could apply for review of a sentence “on the grounds that the sentence is not authorized by law, is wrong in principle or is manifestly excessive or manifestly inadequate.”

The Department of Justice further said that permission to proceed with the case was granted by the Court of Appeal on March 11, and that they had filed a formal application on March 14. However, as legal proceedings had already commenced, it would not comment further.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.