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Hong Kong courtroom convicts Jimmy Lai and different pro-democracy activists over 2019 protest

The different defendants included “Hong Kong’s father of democracy” Martin Lee and veteran pro-democracy figures Albert Ho and Lee Cheuk-yan. They have been charged with organizing and collaborating in a peaceable 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 fees 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 courtroom.

The choice adopted a 20-day trial in February and March, considered one of many who have emerged from the just about 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 continuing pro-democracy demonstrations, the place they known as for larger authorities accountability and an unbiased 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 courtroom that police shouldn’t be given the ability to ban peaceable protests as a result of it might violate the constitutional safety for freedom of meeting. She additionally argued the defendants have been merely main protesters away from Victoria Park due to overcrowding.

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

“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 courtroom session, veteran pro-democracy activist Lee Cheuk-yan thanked Hong Kongers for his or her assist and known 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 stated.

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

Supporters chanted protest slogans outdoors the courtroom 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, going through a spread of fees associated to 2019 and below the nationwide safety legislation imposed on town by Beijing final 12 months.
Thursday’s verdict comes days after Beijing handed a brand new “patriotic” election legislation for Hong Kong that may drastically restrict the power of bizarre individuals to elect their leaders, and will spell the tip for town’s conventional pro-democracy opposition.

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