The Department of Justice says it will not seek a review of the sentences passed on former student leaders Billy Fung and Colman Li concerning a protest on the University of Hong Kong campus last January.

Following the controversial appointment of pro-Beijing figure Arthur Li as council chairman in December 2015, students surrounded the venue of the governing body’s first meeting chaired by Li at the Sassoon Road campus. They demanded that the council respond to four demands to reform its structure. Council members were unable to leave until four hours after the meeting ended.

Billy Fung. File photo: In-Media.

Fung was student union president at the time of the protest. He was sentenced last week to 240 hours of community service for acting in a disorderly manner, attempted forceful entry and criminal damage. It is the maximum sentence for a community service order.

Li, also a member of the student union, was sentenced to 200 hours of community service for obstructing public officers in the execution of duty at the protest for blocking an ambulance carrying a council member from leaving.

No sentence appeal

A Department of Justice spokesperson told HKFP on Thursday that it had decided “not to seek a review of the sentences imposed on the two defendants.”

In making the decision, the spokesperson said that “the trial magistrate’s reasons for sentence delivered on 21 September 2017, the prosecuting counsel’s case report, the facts of the case, the applicable legal principles, the defendants’ personal background and their attitude towards the offences, as well as the Prosecution Code” have been considered.

Within these factors, whether there is genuine remorse, whether the defendant’s conduct was premeditated, the degree of violence involved and whether any person was injured have also been taken into account.

Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen. File photo: In-Media.

The Department of Justice earlier lodged reviews against the sentences given to the Occupy student leaders – Nathan Law, Joshua Wong and Alex Chow – for taking part in the Civic Square clashes. It also applied to review the sentences of 13 activists who took part in protests against the controversial northeast New Territories development.

The sentence reviews were successful and all 16 were jailed last month.

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Karen Cheung

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.