9 sentenced for Hong Kong university rioting during 2019 protests
Beijing, Jan 15 (EFE).- A Hong Kong court Saturday sentenced nine accused to up to three years and four months in prison after finding them guilty of rioting inside the Polytechnic University during the 2019 city-wide protests.
The court sent two accused to a correctional facility while the rest will spend up to 40 months in prison.
Judge Josiah Lam said the defendants were all young who wanted to change society, but they had chosen the wrong way to express their political beliefs, state-run Radio and TV Hong Kong network said.
Police charged the defendants with rioting after their arrests outside the Diocesan Girls’ School on Nov.18, 2019.
The police siege of the university began a day earlier, when violent clashes broke out between activists and officers in Hung Hom in the Kowloon mainland district.
Many activists escaped to the polytechnic but police surrounded the campus and issued arrest orders for anyone trying to flee.
Protesters set up barricades inside the compound, while some escaped by sliding down bridges and other hidden places.
The campus became ground zero for pitched battles between activists from the pro-democracy protest movement and riot police.
The nearly two-week siege ended with the withdrawal of officers around the campus after police discovered a large cache of weapons such as Molotov cocktails, bows, and chemicals stowed there.
Police arrested more than 1,100 people during the days of protest, of which only 46 were students from the Polytechnic University.
China has tightened its grip on the former British colony since the anti-government protests shook the city nearly three years ago.
The Chinese government responded to the protests with criminal cases and a controversial security law that entails life imprisonment for “terrorism,” “secession,” and “collusion with foreign forces.”
China also introduced election reforms in the autonomous region to bar the pro-democratic opposition leaders from contesting and ensure that only pro-Beijing politicians occupy the parliament seats.
Last year, more than 50 Hong Kong groups dissolved to prevent their members from being implicated under the controversial security law. Numerous activists have either gone into exile or have been arrested and imprisoned. EFE