‘Occupy Central’ trio appeal sentences, convictions

Law professor Benny Tai (left), along with Baptist minister Chu Yiu-ming (right) and sociology professor Chan Kin-man (center) enter the West Kowloon Magistrates Court in April. Tai has said in letters from prison that Hongkongers are beginning to question the viability of nonviolence. Photo via AFP.
Law professor Benny Tai (left), along with Baptist minister Chu Yiu-ming (right) and sociology professor Chan Kin-man (center) enter the West Kowloon Magistrates Court in April. Tai has said in letters from prison that Hongkongers are beginning to question the viability of nonviolence. Photo via AFP.

Three prominent activists sentenced over their roles in the 2014 Umbrella Movement protests just over a week ago filed appeals against their convictions today.

Sociology professor Chan Kin-man, 60, legal scholar Benny Tai, 54, and Baptist minister Chu Yiu-ming, 75 — the three men behind the “Occupy Central” civil disobedience campaign, which would merge with student protests to form the Umbrella Movement — were convicted on colonial-era public nuisance charges in April in a trial that drew criticism from grassroots supporters and rights groups alike.

Chan and Tai, who were both sentenced to serve 16 months in prison, filed appeals against both their conviction and their sentences today, their lawyers told HKFP. Chu, whose 16-month sentence was suspended, filed an appeal against his conviction.

The three were tried alongside six others, five of whom were handed sentences ranging from eight months to community service. The ninth co-defendant saw her sentencing postponed to allow her to have urgent surgery on a large brain tumor.

At the time of their sentencing, activists and rights groups said that the use of the vague public nuisance laws — combined with prosecutors’ decision to pursue harsher common law sentences — was a blow to free speech.

“The long sentences sends a chilling warning to all that there will be serious consequences for advocating for democracy,” Maya Wang, Human Rights Watch’s senior researcher on China, said at the time.

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CITY: HONG KONGCATEGORY: NEWSSUB-CATEGORIES: CRIME, POLITICS

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