HONG KONG – A group of Hong Kong protesters arrested by mainland Chinese authorities while fleeing the city by speedboat were sentenced to prison in a mainland court on Wednesday, the latest outrage against pro-democracy activists of the Chinese Communist Party. Challenge its governance.
Eight protesters accused of illegally crossing a border were sentenced to seven months imprisonment. Two others, Tang Kai-yin, 31, and Quinn Moon, 33, who were charged with a more serious offense of organizing an escape attempt, received three and two years respectively.
The protesters also received fines ranging from 10,000 to 20,000 dollars ranging from 10,000 to 20,000 dollars.
Two other defendants, who were juveniles at the time of the arrest, pleaded guilty in a closed-door hearing and were not subsequently charged, according to a statement from prosecutors in the mainland city of Shenzhen on Wednesday, where activists are being held Was. Hong Kong police said on Wednesday that they would get custody Two anonymous defendants from the mainland authorities.
About 45 miles southeast of Hong Kong, 12 protesters were captured in August by the Chinese Coast Guard while trying to flee to Taiwan. Many Hong Kongers who have opposed Beijing have taken refuge in Taiwan in recent months, especially since June, when the central government implemented a new national security law on Hong Kong that many believe led to the city’s Precious civil liberties have been damaged.
One of the arrested protesters, Andy Lee, was being investigated under the new law at the time of his attempted escape.
The case of 12 activists – who have been dubbed “Hong Kong’s youth” by supporters at home, though they range in age from 17 to 33 – embodying many anti-protesters’ fears about the central government’s continued encroachment in Hong Kong Have come , A former British colony that was promised 50 years of relative autonomy when it returned to China in 1997.
Because the detainees were housed and tried on the mainland, they were denied access to lawyers selected by their relatives, according to a group that represents family members. He had not been charged for any crime until this month, more than three months after he was caught.
Wednesday’s sentence, at the Yantian District People’s Court in Shenzhen City, further exacerbated differences between the mainland’s legal system, which is opaque and often used to silence dissidents and Hong Kong’s system, which is common. The law follows the principles.
No relatives of the defendants were present for the trial, which lasted two days, according to family members in Hong Kong, although a Shenzhen court said in a statement that some relatives had attended. Family members were informed of the trial date only three days earlier.
Nor was the trial open to observers, despite requests from the family and some foreign diplomats. (Shenzhen officials reportedly said the court room was full.)
According to reports in China’s state-controlled news media, 10 protesters pleaded guilty in hopes of receiving a lighter sentence.
In a statement on Monday after the trial opened, the group of family members said the court proceedings were “evidence of a clear, harsh political persecution.”
“The family of 12 is suffering greatly during their captivity,” the statement said. “They are now asking only for the safety of their children and to return to Hong Kong as soon as possible.”
The case also condemned those foreign governments who are tightening Hong Kong over China. A spokesman for the United States embassy in China, in a statement on Monday, asked the activists for “immediate release”, saying “their so-called ‘crime’ was to flee the atrocity.”
A European Union spokesman said the defendants’ rights to a fair hearing were “not respected.” And British Foreign Secretary Dominic Rabb said he was “deeply concerned” by the proceedings.
In response to the allegations, Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said the US should “immediately stop interfering in China’s internal affairs and judicial sovereignty.”
Hong Kong authorities are also prosecuting the protesters. On Tuesday, 19-year-old student activist Tony Chung was sentenced to four months imprisonment for illegal assembly and insulting the national flag.