Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement leader Joshua Wong sent back to jail

A senior judge said on Thursday student leader Joshua Wong must return to jail to serve a reduced sentence of two months for an earlier charge. (AFP)
Updated 16 May 2019

Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement leader Joshua Wong sent back to jail

  • Joshua Wong was jailed for three months in January 2018 on a contempt charge but served only six days
  • A senior judge said on Thursday Wong must return to jail — albeit for a reduced sentence of two months

HONG KONG: Prominent Hong Kong student leader Joshua Wong was sent back to prison Thursday after he lost an attempt to quash a jail sentence over his leadership of huge democracy protests five years ago.
Wong, 22, became one of the most recognizable faces of the “Umbrella Movement” in 2014 which paralyzed key intersections of the financial hub for more than two months.
Protesters were demanding a greater say in how the city is run, including the right for Hong Kongers to directly elect the city’s leader.
The movement — which took its name from the umbrellas protesters used to defend themselves against police — failed to win any concessions from the city’s pro-Beijing authorities, and its leaders faced a slew of prosecutions.
Wong, who was 17 when the protests began, was jailed for three months in January 2018 on a contempt charge after pleading guilty to obstructing the clearance of a major protest camp.
He served only six days of that sentence before being released on bail pending an appeal.
On Thursday, however, a senior judge said Wong must return to jail — albeit for a reduced sentence of two months.
Justice of Appeal Jeremy Poon said Wong’s age at the time of the offense was a mitigating factor, as well as his guilty plea and apology.
But he dismissed Wong’s argument that he had been excessively punished by authorities because of his prominent status as “entirely baseless and misconceived.”
Wong turned to supporters after the verdict and told them to “add oil” — a commonly used Cantonese phrase of encouragement.
He was then led away to a prison van.
Speaking to reporters before the verdict, Wong said he was facing the prospect of jail “with a calm mind,” noting that other leaders had received much longer sentences.
Last month two key leaders of the protests were jailed for 16 months.
“We will never forget the spirit of Umbrella Movement and we will continue to fight for free elections,” he said.
He also warned of controversial plans by Hong Kong’s government to approve extraditions to the Chinese mainland for the first time.
“Today the High Court, tomorrow the People’s Court,” he said, referring to the mainland’s judicial system.
Wong was also convicted in a second prosecution related to the storming of a government forecourt during the 2014 protests.
He spent some time behind bars for that case, but in the end the city’s top court ruled that community service was sufficient punishment.


French officers detained after fury over beating video

Updated 6 min 40 sec ago

French officers detained after fury over beating video

  • Images published by the Loopsider website show how music producer Michel Zecler was repeatedly beaten by police
  • Celebrities including football World Cup winners Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann condemned the beating

PARIS: French authorities on Friday detained four officers suspected of beating and racially abusing a black music producer in Paris in a case that has shocked President Emmanuel Macron and drawn outrage from celebrities and sports stars.
Images published by the Loopsider website show how music producer Michel Zecler was repeatedly beaten by police for several minutes and subjected to racial abuse as he tried to enter his music studio Saturday evening.
Celebrities including football World Cup winners Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann condemned the beating, while French star singer Aya Nakamura said she wished the producer strength, adding “thank you to those who filmed.”
A presidential official said Friday that Macron, too, was “very shocked” by the images.
The incident raised questions over the future of Paris police chief Didier Lallement, already in the spotlight after the controversial forced removal of a migrant camp in Paris earlier in the week.
It also put the government on the backfoot as it tries to push through new security legislation that would restrict the right of the media to publish the faces of police agents.
Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, who is in charge of the police forces, told French television that the officers tarnished the reputation of France’s security forces.
The four officers, all men, were detained for questioning on Friday, a source close to the case told AFP.
The officers, who had already been suspended from duty, were being held at the National Police Inspectorate General (IGPN), and prosecutors opened an investigation into violence by a person in authority and false testimony, the source said.
Three of the four were being questioned on suspicion of “violence with a racist motive” committed intentionally in a group, prosecutors said. The fourth is being questioned on suspicion of using violence but is not accused of racism.
Zecler was initially himself detained for causing violence, but prosecutors threw out that probe and began investigating the officers instead.
Macron on Thursday held talks with Darmanin to call for tough punishments for those involved in the beating, a government source added.
“Nausea,” said the front page headline in the leftist Liberation daily over a close-up picture of Zecler’s swollen and bloodied face.
“The new video of a rare ferocity... adds to a problem fed over the last months by a succession of blunders and a tendency to revert to authoritarian tendencies,” it said.
The death in US police custody of George Floyd in May and the Black Lives Matter movement have reverberated in France where allegations of brutality against police officers are commonplace, particularly in poor and ethnically diverse urban areas.
“French police has a structural problem with violence, violence that is committed against visible minorities,” Fabien Jobard, a sociologist, told AFP.
“Unbearable video, unacceptable violence,” Mbappe wrote on Twitter next to a picture of the injured producer. “Say no to racism.”
The outcry comes after the lower house of parliament on Tuesday evening approved a security bill which would restrict the publication of photos or videos of police officers’ faces.
Media unions say it could give police a green light to prevent journalists from potentially documenting abuses, as well as stopping social media users from posting incriminating footage.
A protest against the draft law, which has yet to pass a Senate vote, has been called for Saturday in Paris.
In a sign that the government could be preparing to backtrack, Prime Minister Jean Castex announced late Thursday that he would appoint a commission to redraft Article 24 of the law that would restrict the publication of images of the police.
But this in turn sparked accusations that the prime minister was trying to bypass the legislature.
“It is not for the government to substitute the work of an external committee in the place of parliamentary prerogatives,” the speaker of the lower house Richard Ferrand told Castex, his office said.
Macron swept to power in 2017 as a centrist who rallied support from across the political spectrum. But critics and even some supporters accuse him of tilting to the right as he seeks re-election in 2022.
“Already accused of attacking public freedoms through the security bill... the executive faces an accumulation of cases of violence and police abuse, the images of which have disturbed even the ruling party,” said Le Monde daily.