The verdicts earlier this month had set off a torrent of criticism from democracy advocates and human rights group, who described them as a body blow to Hong Kong’s political freedom. But Chief Executive Carrie Lam had termed such comments as “unwarranted”, saying the SAR’s judiciary is independent.
Occupy co-founders HKU law professor Benny Tai, retired sociology professor Chan Kin-man and Reverend Chu Yiu-ming were all found guilty of conspiracy to cause a public nuisance.
Tai and Chan had appealed to the court not to pass a custodial sentence on their 75-year-old colleague Chu as he is ailing.
Along with the punishments given to the trio, the sentences handed down to Civic Party legislator Tanya Chan and social welfare lawmaker Shiu Ka-chun will also be closely watched.
Both were found guilty of inciting others to cause a public nuisance, and inciting people to incite others to cause a public nuisance. If jailed for more than a month, they could end up being stripped of their Legco seats, adding another blow to the depleted opposition.
In a 267-page ruling, the Judge, Johnny Chan, had said the 79-day protest and occupation of key roads impinged “unreasonably upon the rights of others. “The act was one not warranted by law,” he had said.
But the verdicts were slammed by critics, led by former Hong Kong governor Chris Patten who said the trial was the result of a “vengeful” campaign by the SAR authorities, while Amnesty International said the authorities were “abusing the law to silence debate”.