A Hong Kong man has been jailed for 11 months after he pleaded guilty to three counts of incitement linked to encouraging others to spread the Covid-19 virus and cause harm to the city’s judges and police officers.

District Court
District Court. File photo: GovHK.

District Judge Clement Lee sentenced defendant Chung Chi-chiu to prison on Friday, after the 32-year-old admitted to the charges of “incitement to cause grievous bodily harm with intent,” “incitement to wounding with intent” and “incitement to expose others to infection,” local media reported.

Chung was said to have commented on popular discussion forum LIHKG in May 2021 when he mentioned “killing” judges in a thread related to a statement from the Department of Justice censuring criminal intimidation against judges.

According to local media citing the prosecution’s case, the defendant also left around eight comments on the forum that were deemed as inciting other people to attack the police. The comments were made days after July 1, 2021, when a uniformed officer was wounded by a man with a knife, the reports read. The attacker then stabbed himself in the chest with the same knife and died.

Chung posted on the forum again in February last year, telling Covid-19 patients to “go around and spread the virus.” His thread attracted 543 comments, with over 3,500 upvotes and 400 downvotes, local media said.

He was arrested that month and, under police caution, admitted he was the user of the account responsible for the comments in question.

judges judiciary
Hong Kong judges. File photo: GovHK.

Chung’s representative described the defendant as a “keyboard warrior” who only wanted to “vent discontent” online. He would not harm anyone in real life, the lawyer told the court.

In meting out prison term to Chung, Judge Lee said the defendant was not a well-known figure and his comments related to the police and judges garnered no response. The content also did not include any concrete plans. But his posts concerning the spreading of the virus were continuous and found to be motivating to others, eventually receiving more than a thousand upvotes, Lee said according to local media reports.

Taking into account Chung’s guilty plea and his cooperation with the police, the court eventually sentenced him to 11 months in prison.

The defendant originally faced two more related charges which he denied on Friday. The prosecution decided to keep them on court file and did not pursue them.

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Kelly Ho has an interest in local politics, education and sports. She formerly worked at South China Morning Post Young Post, where she specialised in reporting on issues related to Hong Kong youth. She has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong, with a second major in Politics and Public Administration.