HONG KONG: A Hong Kong court on Monday (Oct 30) sentenced four former members of the student union of the University of Hong Kong to two years in jail for inciting others to wound police officers after they issued a statement supporting a man who stabbed a policeman.
District Court Judge Adriana Noelle Tse Ching said the students had committed a very serious offence by inciting hatred against the police. “A lenient sentencing would pass a wrong message to the society,” she added.
The students included Charles Kwok, 22, a former student union president. Kwok and the other student union council members had issued a statement, which they later withdrew, in which they mourned 50-year-old Leung Kin-fai, who stabbed a policeman and then killed himself on Jul 1, 2021.
The students were initially arrested and charged with advocating terrorism under Hong Kong’s national security law in August 2021. They earlier pleaded not guilty to the terrorism charge but admitted to the charge of incitement to wound with intent. The judge then dropped the terrorism charge.
Beijing imposed the national security law on Hong Kong in 2020 after months of anti-government protests. The law punishes acts including subversion, collusion with foreign forces and terrorism with up to life in prison.
The maximum penalty for both advocating terrorism and inciting others to wound with intent is life imprisonment. The maximum sentence a district court judge can impose is seven years.
The national security law has been criticised as a tool of repression by governments including the United States. The Chinese and Hong Kong governments, however, say it has restored stability in the city after protracted protests in 2019.