By Shirley Lau
Hong Kong, Dec 30 (efe-epa).- Ten of the 12 Hongkongers captured at sea by Chinese coast guards in August while fleeing to Taiwan were sentenced to between seven months and three years in jail by a Shenzhen court on Wednesday.
Two underage minors of the group were handed over to Hong Kong police, as authorities in mainland China said they would face a hearing with prosecutors.
The suspects, 11 male and one female aged 16 to 33, were put on trial in Shenzhen on Monday when 10 of them pleaded guilty.
In what was the first time Hong Kong activists involved in the city’s protest movement last year were tried in the mainland, the Chinese court gave a three-year jail term to one of the suspects, Tang Kai-yin, 31, the group leader, who had allegedly organized the border crossing.
He also has to pay a fine of 20,000 yuan ($3,000).
His accomplice, Quinn Moon, 33, the only female member of the group accused of the same crime, received two years in jail and a fine of 15,000 yuan.
The other eight, aged 18 to 30, were sentenced to seven months in prison and ordered to pay a fine of 10,000 yuan for “illegal border crossing” into mainland China.
According to a notice published by the Shenzhen court, Tang bought a speedboat and, together with Quinn, met with the other 10 at midnight on Aug.23 in the seaside town of Sai Kung in the New Territories.
They boarded the vessel driven by Tang to go to Taiwan.
Around 8 am, the boat was captured by coast guards of Guangdong Province and the suspects were remanded in custody in Shenzhen. On Sep.30, they were formally arrested by the mainland authorities.
In an unexpected development, Hoang Lam Phuc, 17, a student with Vietnamese citizenship, and Liu Sze-man, 18, also a student, who was a minor in August, were sent back to Hong Kong on Wednesday and handed over to police in the border town of Tin Shui Wai.
At a press briefing outside the police station, Cheng Lai-ki, chief superintendent of Hong Kong police’s Commercial Crime Bureau, said the two would have to undergo a 14-day compulsory quarantine due to the Covid-19 pandemic, while police would resume investigations into the crimes they allegedly committed during the protest movement last year.
“For these absconded suspects, we will… apply to [a] court to remand these two persons in jail custody,” Cheng said, adding that the duo was allowed to speak to their families on the phone after returning to Hong Kong and their families will have the right to visit them.
Last October, Hoang allegedly threw petrol bombs at a police station in Kowloon. He was charged with arson and possession of an offensive weapon.
A month before, Liu was among five persons arrested for conspiracy to commit arson and possession of a weapon.
They were held in Shenzhen for 130 days without access to their families.
The local press then said the suspects were trying to flee to Taiwan as they feared for their security under the controversial national security law that Beijing imposed on Hong Kong last June.
The Shenzhen court said the trial on Monday was open to the public, but seats were all reserved and foreign diplomats attempting to attend the trial could not enter the court.
Families of the defendants were informed of the Monday trial on Christmas Day. The 14-day quarantine rule in mainland China means they were unable to attend the hearing.