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Four jailed leaders of the Occupy movement are expected to be sent to different penal institutions on Saturday at the earliest, with at least three likely to be sent to maximum security prisons, according to law enforcement sources.
News of their removal came as two top legal scholars urged the University of Hong Kong not to launch disciplinary proceedings against one of the convicted leaders, law professor Benny Tai Yiu-ting, until the appeal process had finished.
Tai, 54, was jailed for 16 months alongside Chan Kin-man, 60, while League of Social Democrats vice-chairman Raphael Wong Ho-ming, 30, and lawmaker Shiu Ka-chun were both jailed for eight months for their roles in the 2014 protests.
Sources said the four, who were sent to the Lai Chi Kok Reception Centre after being sentenced on Wednesday, is likely to be transferred to maximum security facilities in Stanley and Shek Pek, as well as minimum security Pik Uk Prison to serve their out sentences. All except Shiu have indicated their intention to appeal.
Shiu, who was sent to Queen Elizabeth Hospital on Thursday for high blood pressure, remained there on Friday after being diagnosed with an abnormal heart rate.
Shiu’s colleague posted a Facebook message on Thursday, quoting the lawmaker as saying he felt “peaceful” while sharing his first night in the same cell at the reception centre with Chan.
The Correctional Services Department said it would assign prisoners to suitable institutions after taking into consideration their gender, age, health, security level, length of sentence, type of offence and criminal background.
Meanwhile, Tai, could face a disciplinary hearing at HKU, as lawmaker Junius Ho Kwan-yiu renewed calls for the university to sack the academic. The university has so far declined to comment on what action, if any, it is taking.
Former law dean Albert Chen Hung-yee said Tai’s criminal conviction was severe enough to trigger a disciplinary inquiry.
“We would wish to support him, but there is little colleagues can do on the matter of disciplinary inquiry,” Chen said.
His two successors, Johannes Chan Man-mun and Michael Hor Yew Meng, said the university should wait until all court proceedings have finished.
“A disciplinary proceeding premised on a conviction, which is then successfully appealed from, will itself be undermined, and have to be reopened,” Hor said.
“So, as a matter of prudence, it would be advisable to await the exhaustion of appeals.”
Acting dean Fu Hualing said he and some HKU law student representatives would be willing to give their views if a disciplinary proceeding was opened in future.
“When the time comes, the faculty and the members will express their views to the Council,” Fu said.
Asked whether he supports Tai, Fu said: “The faculty doesn’t have a view on any case, but we hold the principle that we respect the rule of law, upholding the principle of expression and academic freedom.”
Johannes Chan added there was room for the Occupy leaders to appeal their sentencing, because the judge did not explain sufficiently why he adopted a starting point of sentencing of 18 months.
Chan said most of the cases for reference in the judgment involved a maximum sentence of six months.
Only in one case, where a British oil company's employees who occupied a road to protest were sentenced to 16 months, but Chan said the judge ignored the fact that the case was later successfully appealed, and the workers eventually received only community service order.
“It appears that the judge has adopted a relatively higher starting point of sentencing, but he did not explain in details why,” Chan said.
This article Occupy ringleaders to be sent to maximum security prisons, as scholars call on University of Hong Kong to delay disciplinary proceedings against Benny Tai first appeared on South China Morning Post