Hong Kong’s top court has approved applications by democracy activists Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Alex Chow to proceed with their appeal over their jail sentences.

The Court of Appeal sentenced the trio to prison in August over their involvement in a clash which sparked the 2014 pro-democracy Umbrella Movement protests. They were given jail sentences of six to eight months. All three appealed.

Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Alex Chow
Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Alex Chow. File photo: In-Media.

On Tuesday, Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma said the court must deal with four points in the appeal. It must consider to what extent the Court of Appeal had the right to add, change, or modify facts.

It must also consider to what extent the defendant’s motive and civil disobedience should be taken into account by a sentencing court, whether the defendants should be subjected to the new sentencing guidelines that were laid down, and that Wong was below the age of 21 at the time.

The court also granted Alex Chow’s application for bail. The three activists’ appeal hearing will take place January 16.

Last month, the Court of Final Appeal granted bail to Law and Wong pending appeal, while Chow did not request bail. Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma said then that their appeal was “not an entirely hopeless application.”

Law and Chow had sought certification from the Court of Appeal to demonstrate that a legal point of great importance was involved in the decision. But the court dismissed their applications last month, saying that neither Chow nor Law were “able to demonstrate an arguable case.”

nathan law joshua wong alex chow court
Photo: Karen Cheung/HKFP.

Last year, they were found guilty of inciting others to take part in an unlawful assembly by the Magistrates Court. They were initially given a community service sentence, which they already served. However, the Department of Justice won a sentence review pushing for harsher punishment.

A group of 12 senior international lawyers from six countries said their imprisonment represented “a serious threat to the rule of law and a breach of the principle of ‘double jeopardy’ in Hong Kong.”

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.