Former student leaders jailed over their praise of a knife attack on police officer

HONG KONG — Four former student leaders from the University of Hong Kong were sentenced to two years in prison on Monday for inciting people to wound others through their praise of a man who stabbed a police officer before killing himself in 2021.

Kinson Cheung, Charles Kwok, Chris Todorovski and Anthony Yung are being held responsible for their roles in passing a motion in the students union council. The motion expressed “deep sadness” and appreciated the “sacrifice” of the man who took his own life.

The resolution came against the backdrop of widespread public anger against the police, who were condemned as being heavy-handed in quelling the 2019 pro-democracy protests.

Handing down the sentences, Judge Adriana Noelle Tse Ching said the words they used were likely to incite hatred against the police. The charge the four were facing was a serious offense and a lenient sentence would send "the wrong message” to society, she said.

Leung Kin-fai stabbed a police officer with a knife before turning the weapon on himself on July 1, 2021, the anniversary of the former British colony's handover to Chinese rule in 1997. Leung was described by the city's authorities as a “lone wolf” domestic terrorist who was politically radicalized.

The passing of the motion drew criticism from the university and Hong Kong's security bureau, prompting Kwok and his peers to apologize and retract the resolution. Some student leaders also stepped down from their posts.

But their apology did not end the political storm, and police arrested the four in August 2021.

They were originally charged with advocating terrorism under a national security law imposed by Beijing following the 2019 protests. But that charge was dropped after they pleaded guilty to an alternative charge of incitement to wound with intent last month.

The security law has prosecuted or silenced many leading activists under a crackdown on dissent. But Beijing and the Hong Kong government says the law helped bring back stability to the city.


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