A former administrator of a Telegram channel will continue to serve a 6.5-year prison sentence after a court rejected his bid to challenge his conviction over seven charges linked to Hong Kong’s 2019 anti-extradition bill unrest.
Justice Derek Pang of the Court of Appeal on Friday refused to grant a leave to appeal against the conviction to Ng Man-ho, who was jailed last May after being found guilty of conspiring to incite others to commit arson, rioting and other crimes during the citywide protests by running a Telegram group called SUCK Channel.
The 27-year-old appellant who had no legal representative told the appeal court that Deputy District Judge Peter Hui had failed to take into account some important matters during the trial.
He also argued the Telegram account was logged in on four devices, while there was evidence showing a possibility that messages in the channel were published by others.
The appeal judge dismissed Ng’s arguments as grounds for filing an appeal, however, saying all of the issues raised had already been “thoroughly considered” and “refuted one by one” by the trial judge. Hui had also reviewed expert testimonies and circumstantial evidence in convicting Ng, Pang remarked.
“You have to tell me in what ways the [the trial judge] erred… there is no point in repeating your defence from the trial,” he said.
In meting out Ng’s jail term last year, Hui said the channel contained around 120 messages and photos that incited people to vandalise pro-government shops and commit criminal damage targeting police stations.
The group also hosted discussions on committing arson, the court ruled, including setting roadblocks on fire, throwing petrol bombs at police stations and teaching people to make such weapons.
Ng “could not shift his criminal liability,” Hui ruled at the time, saying the defendant allowed the messages to exist in the public channel that had more than 109,000 subscribers.
The appellant told Pang that he had evidence showing that he only installed the messaging app after the offence was committed. When asked if he had raised such an argument during his trial, the appellant said “yes.” But the Department of Justice representative William Siu, who was also the lead prosecutor in Ng’s case, said the defendant had not done so.
Pang suggested Ng could pay for a court transcript and check but also warned the appellant not to “waste the court’s time.” He said the lawyer who represented Ng during the trial, barrister Douglas Kwok, was “very experienced” and would have “jumped” to inform the court if important evidence was ignored.
The appeal judge later offered to give Ng a free CD-ROM containing the recording of the trial – which lasted more than 10 days – but the appellant said he would not accept the disc.
“I’m not trying to give you a hard time,” the judge said after the appellant turned down his suggestion.
Pang eventually rejected Ng’s leave application, saying he was not only the owner of the Telegram channel, but also “actively” published the messages in question. Ng could choose to again seek leave before a three-judge panel, but Pang warned he could be penalised and potentially face a longer jail term if his case was not solid.
A written judgment would be handed down within three months, Pang added.
Ng originally faced 25 charges, with seven offences linked to conspiracy to incite others to commit different crimes. The remaining 18 were alternative charges for the crimes he stood accused of inciting others to do.
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