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Martin Lee, different veteran Hong Kong democrats discovered responsible in landmark illegal meeting case


  • Martin
    Lee, who helped launch the opposition Democratic Get together within the Nineties, and others had been discovered
    responsible of unauthorised meeting costs in a Hong Kong court docket.
  • Lee,
    82, media tycoon Jimmy Lai, 72, and 5 others all of their 60s or older, sat
    impassively as district court docket choose Amanda Woodcock handed down her determination.
  • Sentencing
    will comply with on 16 April, with some authorized consultants anticipating jail phrases of 12-18 months. The utmost attainable sentence is 5 years.

HONG
KONG – A Hong Kong court docket discovered seven distinguished democrats responsible of unauthorised
meeting costs, together with 82-year-old barrister Martin Lee and media tycoon
Jimmy Lai, 72, the newest blow to the town’s beleaguered democracy motion.

Lee,
who helped launch the town’s largest opposition Democratic Get together within the Nineties
and is usually known as the previous British colony’s “father of democracy”,
was accused of participating in an unauthorised meeting on 18 August 2019.

The
silver-haired Lee and the others, all of their 60s or older, sat impassively as
district court docket choose Amanda Woodcock handed down her determination.

The district court docket choose mentioned within the full written judgment:

I’ve discovered after trial the prosecution in a position to show past cheap doubt that all the defendants collectively organised what amounted to an unauthorised meeting.

They
had been additionally discovered responsible of knowingly collaborating in an unauthorised meeting.

Though
Hong Kong’s mini-constitution ensures the correct to peaceable meeting,
Woodcock added, “restrictions are imposed, together with these for preserving
public security and public order, and defending the rights of others”.

‘Peaceable meeting not against the law’

Sentencing
will comply with on 16 April, with some authorized consultants anticipating jail phrases of 12-18 months.
The utmost attainable sentence is 5 years.

The
different defendants included distinguished barrister Margaret Ng, 73; and veteran
democrats Lee Cheuk-yan, 64; Albert Ho, 69; Leung Kwok-hung, 65; and Cyd Ho,
66. Two others, Au Nok-hin and Leung Yiu-chung, 67, had earlier pleaded responsible.

A
small group of supporters displayed banners outdoors the West Kowloon court docket
constructing, together with one which learn “Oppose Political Persecution”.

“Peaceable
meeting shouldn’t be against the law,” shouted Leung Kwok-hung as he entered the court docket.

The
choose rejected a request by the prosecution to maintain the 9 in custody, and
granted them bail pending sentencing.

Throughout
the trial, defence attorneys argued that freedom of meeting is a constitutional
proper in Hong Kong, and famous that police had authorized the peaceable
demonstration within the metropolis’s downtown Victoria Park, which grew into an
unauthorised march as numbers swelled into the a whole lot of 1000’s.

The
prosecution argued that the liberty of meeting is not absolute in Hong Kong.

‘Severely undermined freedoms, rights’

Critics,
together with Western governments, have condemned the arrests of Lee and different
democrats amid the continuing crackdown. Forty-seven different high-profile democratic
campaigners are dealing with subversion costs below the nationwide safety legislation, and
have principally been denied bail and are being held in detention.

The
US mentioned on Wednesday that Hong Kong doesn’t warrant preferential remedy
below the Hong Kong Coverage Act, a legislation that had allowed Washington to take care of a
particular relationship with the town.

Secretary
of State Antony Blinken mentioned in a information launch that China had “severely
undermined the rights and freedoms of individuals in Hong Kong”, via arbitrary
arrests and politically motivated prosecutions, in addition to “strain on
judicial independence and tutorial and press freedoms”.

Former lawmaker and barrister Martin Lee (C) leaves West Kowloon court docket in Hong Kong on 1 April 2021.

The
2019 pro-democracy protests had been spurred by Beijing’s tightening squeeze on
wide-ranging freedoms promised to Hong Kong upon its return to Chinese language rule in
1997, and plunged the semi-autonomous metropolis into its greatest disaster for the reason that
handover.

Beijing
has since imposed a sweeping nationwide safety legislation, punishing something it deems
as secession, subversion, terrorism or collusion with overseas forces with as much as
life in jail.

Since
the legislation’s promulgation, the federal government has sought to crush the opposition
motion, barred protests and curbed political expression, and overhauled the
metropolis’s electoral system to make sure solely pro-China “patriots” govern
Hong Kong.

Hong
Kong and Chinese language authorities, nevertheless, say the safety legislation and electoral
reforms are wanted to revive stability and to resolve “deep-seated”
issues, and that human rights will probably be safeguarded.




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