Conflicts & War

10 Hong Kong pro-democracy activists plead guilty to protest charges

Hong Kong, May 17 (EFE).- Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai and nine other well-known pro-democracy figures pleaded guilty in court on Monday to organizing an unauthorized assembly on China’s national day in 2019.

In addition to Lai, 73, veteran activist “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung, trade union leader Lee Cheuk-yan, lawyer and veteran democrat Albert Ho, convener of Civil Human Rights Front Figo Chan, former district councilor Richard Tsoi, and former lawmakers Cyd Ho, Yeung Sum, Avery Ng and Sin Chung-kai pleaded guilty to the same charge.

Ng and Tsoi also pleaded guilty in the District Court to another count of taking part in the unauthorized protest, state broadcaster RTHK reported, adding the same charge against the rest of the defendants was not pursued.

Chan, Lee, Leung and Albert Ho also admitted to inciting others to take part in the rally, RTHK said.

Judge Amanda Woodcock will handle the bail request of six of the defendants Monday afternoon, with sentencing scheduled for May 28.

On Apr. 16, Lai was given 14 months in prison for his involvement in two other unauthorized protests in August 2019, while other activists were sentenced to between eight and 18 months in jail over one of the protests.

The 10 were among tens of thousands of demonstrators who marched on Hong Kong Island on Oct. 1, 2019, in defiance of a police ban.

That Chinese national day, various areas of the ex-British colony descended into chaos at the height of the large-scale, sometimes violent anti-government protests that gripped the city for more than three months.

The street protests eventually ended with the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic last year.

In June 2020, Beijing imposed a national security law on Hong Kong. Since then, many local opposition figures have been arrested or fled abroad. Numerous arrested activists now typically face multiple charges.

Lai also faces two charges under the national security law, which punishes with sentences of up to life imprisonment.

Meanwhile, Next Digital, the media group that publishes Lai’s Apple Daily, announced that it halted trading of its shares at the Hong Kong stock market Monday morning after authorities froze nearly HK$500 million (about $64.3 million) of Lai’s and assets on Friday, using the new powers granted under the security law. EFE


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