They pleaded guilty to organizing or taking part in an anti-government demonstration in October 2019. The sentence will be handed down on May 28. The listing and trading of Next Digital, the Lai holding company that publishes Apple Daily, has been suspended.
Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - Jimmy Lai and nine other members of the democratic front today pleaded guilty in various ways to organizing, participating in or inciting to take part in an anti-government demonstration on October 1, 2019.
The case has been adjourned to May 24, when Judge Amanda Woodcock will decide on the possible granting of extenuating circumstances; the verdict will be pronounced on May 28th.
Together with the democracy tycoon, Albert Ho Chun, Cyd Ho, Sin Chung-kai and Yeung Sum, all belonging to the Democrat Party, are on trial.
Lee Cheuk-yan and Richard Tsoi aslo pleaded guilty. Both are leading figures of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, the group that organizes the traditional vigil in memory of the Tiananmen massacre on 4 June every year.
"Long hair" Leung Kwok-hung and Avery Ng, of the League of Social Democrats, and Figo Chan, coordinator of the Civil Human Rights Front also face sentencing.
All the defendants are on trial for other charges, some related to the alleged violation of the national security law wanted by Beijing. Some of them are already in prison. Lai has been detained for months, convicted of threatening national security and participating in two unauthorized demonstrations in August 2019.
The prosecutor also accuses Lai of illegally sub-letting some public premises destined for Next Digital, the holding company that owns the anti-establishment newspaper Apple Daily. In this case, on May 14, the National Security Police froze the Democratic tycoon's HK $ 500 million (€ 53 million) in assets, including 70% of the Next Digital shares.
This is the first time that local authorities use the security measure to target a listed group. Following the seizure of Lai's shares, the Hong Kong Stock Exchange announced this morning that it had temporarily suspended the listing and trading of the Next Digital stock.