A 68-year-old Hong Kong woman has been taken into custody to serve a three-month jail sentence over comments made about a magistrate after withdrawing an appeal against her conviction.
Chiu Mei-ying, dressed in a black down jacket and grey facemask, appeared in front of Judge Anna Lai at the High Court on Tuesday.
Chiu was convicted of “uttering seditious words” under the colonial-era sedition law, and was handed a three-month prison term last October. She was granted bail pending appeal.
The defendant’s lawyer told the court on Tuesday that she had withdrawn her appeal, and Chiu was remanded in custody after the court hearing ended.
People in the public gallery stood up and waved to Chiu as the elderly woman left the dock, with some shouting “take care.”
Before the court hearing began, over 30 people gathered outside the courtroom, with many hugging Chiu. With help from her daughter, the 68-year-old removed the shoelaces from her shoes outside the courtroom to prepare herself for prison.
People going into custody must remove items that could be used to harm themselves or others, including belts and shoelaces.
Chiu was convicted for applauding and chanting phrases that accused a magistrate of “non-compliance with the law, deciding the case arbitrarily, out-of-line behaviour and delivering unfair judgement” during the trial against Tiananmen vigil activist Chow Hang-tung in January last year.
Chow, the former vice-chairperson of the organiser of the city’s annual Tiananmen vigils, Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, was giving her mitigation statement when the incident took place.
She was convicted of inciting others to take part in the banned 2021 Tiananmen vigils, and was sentenced to 15 months in prison. Chow has since won an appeal against her conviction, while the Department of Justice has been granted permission to appeal the case to the top court.
The colonial-era sedition law is different from the Beijing-imposed national security law. Falling under the Crimes Ordinance, the sedition law outlaws incitement to violence, to disaffection and to other offences against the administration.
However, defendants charged under the colonial-era law have to meet the same stringent criteria for bail as those prosecuted under the national security law, and sedition cases are handled by hand-picked national security judges as well.