Beijing, Jul 30 (EFE).- The first person to be sentenced under Hong Kong’s controversial National Security Law, Leon Tong Ying-kit, received a nine-year prison sentence Friday charged with “inciting subversion” and “acts of terrorism,” Hong Kong outlet RTHK reported.
Judge Esther Toh said “the court considered Tong’s punishment should reflect his guilt and society’s abhorrence of his actions, and achieve the necessary deterrent effect,” according to RTHK.
On Jul. 1, 2020, hours after the National Security Law had come into force, Tong was arrested for ramming a group of policemen with his motorcycle while waving a flag with the slogan of the 2019 anti-government protests reading “Free Hong Kong. The Revolution of our days.”
Tong will have to serve six and a half years behind barsfor the secession charge related to the display of the flag, with the rest being served for terrorism.
Tong was found guilty on Jul. 27 as the court found he had “caused great harm to society” and his actions were aimed at “intimidating the public to achieve political goals.”
The National Security Law – designed and imposed by Beijing last year – imposes penalties of up to life imprisonment for cases of secession, terrorism or “conspiring with foreign forces.”
Tong, 24, rejected both charges and has been in custody since his arrest, with all bail requests denied.
The trial did not have a jury, in what RTHK called “an unusual step” as the Hong Kong Justice Department claimed to fear for the personal safety of jurors and their families.
Rights organization Amnesty International called the sentence “a hammer blow to freedom of expression.”
“Tong Ying-kit’s sentence to nine years confirms the National Security Law is not only an instrument to terrorize critics of the government in Hong Kong. It is a weapon that will be used to imprison them,” the organization’s Asia Pacific director Yamini Mishra said Friday. EFE