Activist in secession case gets prison term reduced - RTHK
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Activist in secession case gets prison term reduced

2022-08-03 HKT 16:08
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  • The Court of Appeal cut Ma Chun-man's jail term by nine months, to five years behind bars. File photo: RTHK
    The Court of Appeal cut Ma Chun-man's jail term by nine months, to five years behind bars. File photo: RTHK
An activist jailed under the national security law for inciting secession has won a bid to get his sentence reduced.

The Court of Appeal ruled on Wednesday that Ma Chun-man, who was dubbed "Captain America 2.0", should have been jailed for five years, rather than the five years and nine months he was given last year.

The District Court had found Ma guilty of publicly chanting pro-independence slogans on nearly 20 occasions, as well as promoting such ideas on social media.

At the Court of Appeal, his lawyers argued that the trial judge was wrong in deciding that the case was of a serious nature, and that even if it was indeed serious, the sentence was still manifestly excessive.

The Court of Appeal noted that the national security law states that serious secession cases warrant a jail term of between five and 10 years.

It said when Ma committed his offences between August and November in 2020, violent unlawful assemblies were still taking place in Hong Kong, and there was a high risk of national security and law and order being endangered.

The court added that the defendant picked sensitive dates to commit his offences to attract greater public attention, increasing the risk that his activities could have led to outbreaks of violence.

The court agreed that the case was of a serious nature, but said the starting point of six years behind bars adopted by the trial judge was clearly too high, and it should instead have been five years and three months.

"Having regard to all the circumstances, the culpability of [Ma] remained at the lower end of that classification. As such, his sentence should approximate the minimum term of five years’ imprisonment," the three-judge panel wrote in their judgement.