8th December 2023 – (Hong Kong) Next Digital media founder Jimmy Lai and six others have appealed to the Court of Final Appeal after their convictions for participating in illegal assemblies on 18th August, 31st August, 1st October, and 4th June, in 2019 and 2020. Lai was sentenced to 20 months in prison for organising and participating in these unauthorised gatherings. In the 18th August case, Lai was convicted of organising and participating in an unauthorised assembly, resulting in a 12-month prison sentence. Lai had previously filed an appeal to overturn his conviction and seek a reduction in his sentence. Co-defendants Martin Lee and Albert Ho, among six others, also applied for leave to appeal. In August of this year, the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeals related to the charge of participating in illegal assemblies, but allowed the appeal regarding the charge of organising an illegal assembly, leading to the overturning of the conviction. Dissatisfied with the decision, the seven individuals applied to the Court of Appeal for a leave to appeal to the Court of Final Appeal. The Court of Appeal issued a judgment today granting the leave to appeal for the seven appellants. The Department of Justice also applied for a leave to appeal to the Court of Final Appeal regarding the charge of organising an illegal assembly, but their application was rejected by the Court of Appeal.
In addition to Jimmy Lai, the seven appellants include Martin Lee, Albert Ho, Lee Cheuk-yan, Margaret Ng, Leung Kwok-hung, and Claudia Mo. In the 18th August case, Jimmy Lai and eight other co-defendants were convicted, with sentences ranging from 8 to 18 months. Martin Lee, Albert Ho, Margaret Ng, and Leung Yiu-chung were granted suspended sentences. Au Nok-hin and Leung Kwok-hung, who were also defendants in the case, did not file an appeal. Since the appeal regarding the charge of organising an illegal assembly was successful, the individuals were convicted of only one charge, effectively leading to a reduction in their sentences. Jimmy Lai’s prison term was reduced from 12 to 9 months. The remaining three appellants who had appealed their sentences received reductions as well. Lee Cheuk-yan’s sentence was reduced from 12 to 6 months, Leung Kwok-hung’s from 18 to 12 months, and Claudia Mo’s from 8 to 5 months.