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Hong Kong court convicts Jimmy Lai and other pro-democracy activists over 2019 protest

The other defendants included “Hong Kong’s father of democracy” Martin Lee and veteran pro-democracy figures Albert Ho and Lee Cheuk-yan. They had been charged with organizing and participating in a protest on Hong Kong Island on August 18, 2019, which had been banned by police. Among the 9 defendants, all however ex-lawmakers Au Nok-hin and Leung Yiu-chung pleaded not responsible.

On Thursday, choose Amanda Woodcock convicted the defendants, including they are going to be sentenced at one other date. The expenses carry a most penalty of 5 years’ imprisonment.

“The prosecution is able to prove beyond reasonable doubt that all the defendants organized what amounted to an unauthorized assembly on August 18, 2019,” she instructed the court.

The determination adopted a 20-day trial in February and March, one in every of many who have emerged from the virtually year-long unrest that rocked town in 2019.

On the day in query, a whole lot of 1000’s of protesters marched from Victoria Park to Central amid the continued pro-democracy demonstrations, the place they referred to as for larger authorities accountability and an impartial investigation into police brutality. Organizers claimed that as much as 1.7 million individuals took half within the protests, although CNN is unable to independently confirm the estimate.

Audrey Eu, a barrister who represented Lai, argued in court that police shouldn’t be given the facility to ban peaceable protests as a result of it might violate the constitutional safety for freedom of meeting. She additionally argued the defendants had been merely main protesters away from Victoria Park due to overcrowding.

However, the choose mentioned Hong Kong’s prime court has beforehand upheld the legality of police banning protests to guard the general public curiosity, and mentioned there have been no “good and arguable grounds” for suggesting the defendants had been simply dispersing the group.

“The decision to prosecute remains the sole authority of the Department of Justice,” she added. “There were no grounds raised to justify an interference with that decision.”

Speaking earlier than the court session, veteran pro-democracy activist Lee Cheuk-yan thanked Hong Kongers for his or her help and referred to as on them to maintain up the combat for democracy.

“We will still march on, no matter what lies in the future. We believe in the people of Hong Kong. The victory is ours if the people of Hong Kong are persistent,” he mentioned.

Another defendant, “Longhair” Leung Kwok-hung, repeatedly chanted “peaceful protest is not a crime” within the courtroom, a chant additionally heard exterior, the place supporters had gathered. The court opened just a few extra areas as court extensions to accommodate the group.

Supporters chanted protest slogans exterior the court constructing earlier than the decision was handed down.

Lai, who owns the pro-democracy tabloid Apple Daily and is a outstanding critic of Beijing, has been remanded in custody for months, dealing with a spread of expenses associated to 2019 and beneath the nationwide safety regulation imposed on town by Beijing final yr.
Thursday’s verdict comes days after Beijing handed a brand new “patriotic” election regulation for Hong Kong that may drastically restrict the power of strange individuals to elect their leaders, and might spell the top for town’s conventional pro-democracy opposition.

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Updated on April 21, 2021 9:55 pm

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