Benny Tai, one of the nine leaders jailed for participation in the 2014 pro-democracy Umbrella Movement, has been allowed bail pending an appeal.

Legal scholar Tai was sentenced to 16 months in prison in April over public nuisance charges. He applied for an appeal to overturn his conviction and sentencing.

umbrella movement occupy trial
Reverend Chu Yiu-ming, Benny Tai and Chan Kin-man. File Photo:

Mr Justice Andrew Macrae, vice-president of the Court of Appeal, approved the HK$100,000 cash bail application on Thursday. Tai has to surrender his travel document, cannot leave Hong Kong and must live at the address he has given.

Macrae said the appeal will be held between February 24 and 26 next year.

‘I was very touched’

As he emerged from court, Tai thanked friends who supported him and public who sent him letters at Shek Pik Prison. He said the judge said his appeal was not a hopeless one.

“Over the last two months, even though I was separated from the others by the walls of the prison, I can still see many Hong Kong people who have sacrificed selflessly to defend the core values of Hong Kong. And in many moments, I was very touched by what they have done,” he said.

“I am very proud that I can stand with them together at this very moment in Hong Kong. With so many Hong Kong people who love Hong Kong so much, even though the road ahead is very unclear, and will be very difficult and will be tough, I still have confidence that the future of Hong Kong must be bright. The golden era of Hong Kong is yet to come, and I believe that the time is not too far away.”

Tai said he was particularly touched by scenes on July 1 when some protesters tried to carry away four protesters who had refused to leave the occupied Legislative Council, as police were closing in.

July 1 china extradition protest
Photo: Todd R. Darling.

“I cried when I read the news about that,” he said. Tai refrained from commenting on the protests in detail, saying that he needed more time to understand the situation.

Asked if he will join the upcoming anti-government march on Sunday, he said he would spend more time with his family first.

Other appeals

All nine Umbrella Movement activists have filed appeals to overturn their conviction. Other than Tai, Chan Kin-man, Shiu Ka-chun and Raphael Wong, who were given jail sentences, also appealed over prison terms. Chan was sentenced to 16 months in prison as well.

umbrella movement occupy trial
Shiu Ka-chun. File Photo:

According to Shiu’s office, Shiu is expected to leave prison on October 3, after serving his eight-month sentence. Wong was also sentenced to eight months in prison.

Last week, Tai was transferred to solitary confinement after he joined the general strike while in prison on August 5.

Kris Cheng

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.