Protesters close in on appeal

Local | Phoebe Ng Nov 15, 2017
Activist Rafael Wong Ho-ming and 12 other jailed protesters, who tried to smash into the legislature in 2014, yesterday got the green light to apply for an ultimate appeal against convictions.

The Court of Appeal issued a "certificate of points of law of great and general importance" for the 13 to file an application, perhaps by the end of this week.

The protesters were convicted of unlawful assembly in forcing open glass doors with bamboo poles and breaking apart security barricades to oppose a funding vote for development in the northeastern New Territories in 2015.

But in August, the Court of Appeal overturned initial non-custodial sentences for the 13 and imposed jail terms on appeal by the government.

A certificate from the appeal court is a prerequisite for making any Court of Final Appeal application if someone convicted wishes to argue on grounds of "great and general importance" in a case.

Their ultimate bid will be based on whether the sentencing court should consider motives of civil disobedience; whether the penalty is proportionate to a "legitimate aim"; introduce new sentencing guidelines retrospectively; or modify a lower court's factual ruling.

These legal arguments were approved because they concern three similar issues addressed by the top court this month in approving another sentencing application by former student leaders Joshua Wong Chi-fung, Nathan Law Kwun-chung and Alex Chow Yong-kang.

The 13 - nine men and three women aged 19 to 41 - include prominent figures such League of Social Democrats vice chairman Wong and Land Justice League convener Willis Ho Kit-wang.

The judges - Justices Wally Yeung Chun-kuen, Jeremy Poon Shiu-chor and Derek Pang Wai-cheong -allowed four of the 11 questions raised by the applicants.

The next step for the 13 will be to file an appeal based on the four legal questions to the top court, which will confirm whether such questions constitute a problem and decide whether to grant leave to appeal.

The appellants are back behind bars.

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December 2018