12/29/2020, 09.46
HONG KONG - CHINA
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Hong Kong democracy activists detained in Guangdong plead 'guilty'

The sentence will be pronounced tomorrow, two days after the trial. They are charged with having violated Chinese territorial waters while trying to flee to Taiwan. Family members were unable to attend the hearing; foreign diplomats and journalists were also prevented from entering.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Yantian District Court in Shenzhen (Guangdong) will pronounce the verdict tomorrow morning against 10 of the 12 democracy activists jailed in China for almost four months. The families of the detainees reported the news this morning after they were contacted by lawyers appointed by the Chinese authorities.

According to local press reports, the lawyers informed the families that during the trial - held yesterday - the 10 accused pleaded guilty to illegally crossing Chinese territorial waters. No decision has been made for the last two suspects, who are minors and should be heard in a separate hearing.

Last August, the Chinese coast guard intercepted a speedboat carrying 12 Hong Kong citizens off Guangdong. According to unofficial reports, the boat was headed to Taiwan to help the young people flee a possible jail term under the new security law for participating in democracy demonstrations last year.

The Chinese government prevented the 12 from seeing their families and being assisted by lawyers chosen by the families. Foreign journalists and diplomats were prevented from attending the trial, British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab confirmed.

Even family members were unable to participate: an official communication reached them only three days before the detainees appeared before the judges. The judicial authorities argue otherwise, stating that the trial was open door.

The US State Department has called for the immediate release of the activists. According to Washington diplomats, the "alleged" crime they are accused of is "wanting to escape from the tyranny" of the Chinese Communist Party.

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