Hong Kong, Mar 22 (efe-epa).- Eight of the 10 young Hongkongers jailed in mainland China last year after attempting to flee to Taiwan by speedboat were expected to be returned home on Monday after completing their prison terms, state broadcaster RTHK reported.
Seven were expected to be handed back to the Hong Kong police in batches before 5 pm (09:00 GMT) Monday. They are not expected to be set free in Hong Kong, as they still face charges related to the 2019 anti-government protest movement.
Another, activist Andy Li, was transported back to the semi-autonomous Chinese city at around 10.30 am, according to Apple Daily.
Li is the only one of the group who does not face charges in Hong Kong, however, he was previously arrested by police there over alleged money laundering and collusion with foreign forces, an offense which, under the Beijing-imposed national security law, is punishable by a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
The eight released Monday, aged 18 to 30 at the time they were tried in mainland China, are among the so-called ‘Hong Kong 12′ arrested by the Chinese coast guard in August last year as they were attempting to flee to Taiwan after the contentious national security law came into force.
In December, several months after being held incommunicado in a prison in Shenzhen, a court sentenced 10 of the 12 to between seven months and three years in jail for illegally crossing the border.
Two minors were not put on trial and were returned to Hong Kong.
Following Monday’s expected handover, two of the group remained in prison in mainland China. Tang Kai-yin and Quinn Moon, the only woman in the group, are still serving their respective sentences of three years and two years. They were convicted of organizing the illegal border crossing.
The case, which marked the first time Hongkongers related to the 2019 protest movement were imprisoned on the mainland, drew international and local concerns over the opacity of Chinese court proceedings and the defendants’ rights to a fair trial. EFE-EPA