Former Baptist University student unionist sentenced to nine months in prison

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The former student union president of Hong Kong Baptist University was sentenced to nine months in prison for resisting arrest and perverting the course of public justice.

Keith Fong Chung-yin, 23, was charged with carrying offensive weapons, namely 10 laser pointers, in public spaces between Apliu Street and Kweilin Street, as well as resisting arrest by an officer outside a convenience store on Kweilin Street. He also reset his smartphone before officers seized it as evidence on August 6, 2019.

He pleaded not guilty to all charges and was acquitted of possession of offensive weapons. However, he was found guilty of resisting arrest and perverting the course of justice in the district court in February this year.

Judge Douglas Yau Tak-hong sentenced him on Thursday to nine months behind bars in the district court.

He said justice is one of the cornerstones of Hong Kong that cannot be shaken. The accused committed the offenses with premeditation, so it is necessary to imprison him for deterrent effect.

Officers discovered Fong was acting suspiciously after buying laser pointers, but he forcefully resisted when he was pulled over.

Although the process was shorter and less serious than in similar cases, the judge found that the defendant’s claim that the laser pointers were used for stargazing was not true. It was possible that Fong would use them himself or distribute them to others at protests, and fining Fong would not be a deterrent.

As for perverting the course of public justice, Yau pointed out that it is a serious offense even if violence or intimidation is not involved.

He also said that immediate imprisonment is generally unavoidable except in exceptional circumstances.

Yau added that the defendant did not commit the offense on a whim. He removed the SIM card during his stay in the hospital with a special object, which he had to have in his possession beforehand, reflecting that the action was premeditated.

Police failed to restore voice data to his phone following his action, which affected evidence collection, Yau said.

Although the charge of possession of offensive weapons has not yet entered the court process, the police could still obtain the information contained in the defendant’s phone by other means. However, the voice data could not be restored, which impacted evidence collection.

The sentencing came after the defense pleaded that Fong had no criminal record and promised not to commit the same offence.

The defense also said the defendant was remanded in custody for eight weeks due to the pandemic and learned his lesson.

Fong received offers from the University of Glasgow and SOAS University of London and received scholarships from the University of Glasgow. The defense hoped that Fong could be fined instead of jailed, which was rejected by the judge.

The defense also presented several letters from the principal of the defendant’s secondary school and his mother, saying that he had taken the position of president of the student union when no one had come forward. He was a good and honest person, committed and ambitious, who would certainly contribute to society in the future.

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