Activist Tam Tak-chi was sentenced to 40 months in prison and fined HK$5,000 by the district court after being convicted on 11 counts.
The first person convicted under the Colonial-era Sedition Act since before 1997, Tam – a former vice president of People Power and known as “Fast Beat” at the time on the radio – was recognized guilty of seven counts of using seditious language, inciting to take part in an unauthorized assembly, disorderly conduct, conducting an unauthorized assembly and refusing to obey the order of an authorized officer .
District Court Judge Stanley Chan Kwong-chi said Tam, 50, abandoned moral boundaries in a bid to be elected lawmaker so he could enjoy the pay that came with the job as well as power and freedom. status.
Tam stood for district council elections in 2015 and 2019 and legislative council elections in 2016, but all his efforts failed.
The defense had argued that Tam was keen to maintain a free society in Hong Kong and respect for free speech and he pursued these goals without thinking of personal benefit.
But Chan rejected this, saying that for Tam, it was worth using government money to attack the government while building his political power. He asked, “If it’s not self-interest, what else can it be?”
Chan also said that although Tam is a Christian with two master’s degrees in religious studies from Chinese University, he acted like a forgiving missionary.
“What I saw was a vulgar 50-year-old who hurled name-calling without limit and even poured out his curses on subsequent generations of others,” he said.
Tam’s convictions were based on his attempt to incite “hate or contempt” against the administration, including his use of the now banned phrase “Free Hong Kong, the revolution of our time” and also “Death to corrupt police families”.
His attorney, Edwin Choy Wai-bond, SC, said in mitigation that the charges against Tam were based on events that occurred in the first half of 2020 before the national security law was enacted by Beijing.
And Tam has not advocated violence and had no significant influence because he is neither rich nor powerful, Choy added.
But Chan countered that the court could not ignore social and political facts.
A series of violent incidents in the second half of 2019 tested the political environment, public peace and the government’s position until there was a turning point on June 30, 2020, when the national security law has been implemented, Chan said.
He also found a claim by Tam that he didn’t know the seriousness of the offenses “surprising and confusing” because Tam had the backing of a legal team and he was “trying to be smart” using health seminars like excuse to circumvent the rule of social gatherings.
Tam also claimed he was not afraid of being punished, Chan said, adding that he improved Tam’s time behind bars as some offenses were committed while he was out on bail. .
He therefore handed down a sentence of two years in prison for inciting Tam to an unauthorized assembly and 21 months for the seven counts of using seditious words. Twelve months were to be served consecutively with other prison sentences: one month for disorderly conduct and a year and a half for holding an unauthorized meeting, with three consecutive months with other sentences.
There was also a HK$5,000 fine for refusing to obey an officer’s order.
Tam has been in pretrial detention for more than 18 months since his arrest in September 2020, but his 40-month prison sentence may not be the end of his legal troubles: he is charged with subversion in another security case. national.