The District Court on Thursday sentenced activist Ma Chun-man to five years and nine months in prison after finding him guilty of inciting secession by chanting pro-independence slogans.
The court had heard during a national security trial that between August and November 2020, Ma, who was dubbed “Captain America 2.0”, advocated Hong Kong independence on 20 occasions, chanting slogans such as “Liberate Hong Kong, Revolution of Our Times” and “Hong Kong independence, the only way out”, and making pro-independence speeches.
Prosecutors said Ma, 31, also promoted his ideas on social media.
As part of a mitigation plea, Ma’s lawyer said his client deserved a lighter sentence as his actions did not involve any violence, adding that the level of incitement in his speeches was minimal.
But in sentencing, Judge Stanley Chan described the case as serious, saying Ma had shown no remorse.
He cited Ma’s own mitigation letter, in which the defendant described himself as a person with no dreams or plans for his life, and little self-esteem.
Chan said Ma’s psychological report showed that he had been an introverted person with few friends.
According to the report, the judge said, the turning point for Ma came in April 2020, when he became interested in politics after listening to speeches made by certain political figures. Ma then started joining protests and making friends with other activists, the judge said.
Again citing the report, the judge said Ma’s roleplaying as the fictional character Captain America had boosted his self-esteem.
The judge said Ma had evolved from a person being incited to someone who incited others, and this evolution from incitee to inciter shows it's possible that people the defendant incited could turn into the next Ma Chun-man.
Chan said he decided to use six years’ imprisonment as the starting point for Ma’s sentence, but reduced it by three months, saying the defence had been helpful throughout the trial.
Sitting in the dock, Ma, wearing a light grey jumper, showed no emotion.
Immediately after the prison term was handed down, a woman in the public gallery shouted, “Too long!”. The judge then asked security guards to record the woman’s ID card number.