September 20, 2017
Hong Kong’s retired chief prosecutor defended the push by the secretary for justice to lock up 16 activists who previously escaped jail sentences as there was “no choice” otherwise.
Former director of public prosecutions Ian Grenville Cross, SC, however agreed the Secretary for Justice, Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung, as a politically appointed official, should in future consider assigning the prosecution power to the director of public prosecutions instead, as he was independently appointed.
“The case cried out for a review,” Cross, 66, said in an interview on Cable TV yesterday.
This comes as more than 100 protesters took to the streets demanding the immediate release of the 16, including Demosisto leader Joshua Wong Chi-fung, 20, recently disqualified lawmaker Nathan Law Kwun-chung, 24, and university student leader Alex Chow Yong-kang, 27.
They were sent to jail for six to eight months for breaking into Civic Square two days before the September 28 start of the “Umbrella Movement” in 2014 after a sentencing appeal.
Days before, 13 other activists were jailed for between eight and 13 months for gate-crashing into the Legislative Council complex in a separate protest, also after an appeal.
“The sentence was so manifestly wrong, so unduly lenient,” Cross said. “Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung, the SJ, had no choice but to seek a review.”
Cross said the Civic Square storming was serious, involving a large number of people, invading a restricted area and resulting in injuries.
“It was planned and was not spontaneous,” said Cross, vice-chairman of the senate of the International Association of Prosecutors, which was established by the United Nations in 1995. Cross was the longest serving director of public prosecutions from 1997 to 2009.
Meanwhile, pro-democracy groups called for Yuen and Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor to step down for “politically purging” the 16 jailed activists.
Protesters also demanded the immediate release of the “political prisoners” and have all charges against them voided.
Supporters included members of the League of Social Democrats, the Neighbourhood and Worker’s Service Centre, Demosisto, Socialist Action and several lawmakers.
They gathered outside the Court of Final Appeal in Central at 1pm yesterday and marched towards Yuen’s office waving banners and signs.
Organizers are holding another protest on September 28, the third anniversary of the 2014 Umbrella Movement.
A HK$2.5 million fund raised from the previous protest was used to set up a trust in support of the jailed activists.