A Hong Kong martial arts coach handed a five-year jail term under the Beijing-imposed national security law has filed an appeal against his sentence.

Denis Wong was jailed after pleading guilty to inciting subversion under the sweeping security legislation and one count of possession of arms without a licence last month.

High Court
High Court. File photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

Wong filed an appeal against his sentence last Thursday.

The combat coach, arrested last March, was initially charged under the colonial-era sedition law. His charge was upgraded to incitement to subversion last September.

Wong, who was 59 at the time of his arrest, made subversive posts and shared subversive messages on his two Facebook accounts, according to the prosecution.

The police also seized weapons including crossbows, machetes, swords, and arrows from Wong’s home in Sha Tin.

During Wong’s sentencing, his barrister Steven Kwan urged the court to rule that the case was not of a “serious” nature. Under the security legislation’s sentencing structure, those who are deemed to have committed a serious offence will be sentenced to no less than five years in jail.

District Court Judge Ernest Lin ruled that Wong’s offence was serious.

Weapons confiscated by the police during the searches in Tsim Sha Tsui, Sha Tin, and Ma On Shan. Photo: Hong Kong Police, via video screenshot.

The maximum penalty of incitement to subversion is 10 years’ imprisonment, however, sentences handed down at the District Court are capped at seven years.

In a landmark ruling in November last year, the Court of Appeal confirmed that the national security law mandates a minimum sentence for those convicted of “serious” offences.

Lui Sai-yu, the defendant whose case sparked the debate over the minimum sentence, has since filed an attempt to appeal to the city’s top court.

The sedition law, last amended in the 1970s, is different from the Beijing-imposed legislation. Offenders face up to two years in prison upon their first conviction.

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Candice Chau

Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.