Hong Kong, up to three years in prison for 10 democratic activists detained in Shenzhen

Convicted of violating Chinese territorial waters. The last two of the group, both minors, will be tried in Hong Kong. The verdict made public two days after the trial. Guangdong judges: the hearing was public. Families of prisoners and diplomats claim otherwise.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The judges of the Yantian District Court in Shenzhen (Guangdong) have sentenced 10 of the 12 democratic activists imprisoned in China since August with sentences ranging from a minimum of seven months to a maximum of three years. The sentence was posted on the court's website this morning, but the trial took place two days ago; the lawyers had informed the families that the 10 had pleaded guilty to illegally crossing Chinese territorial waters.

About four months ago, the Chinese coast guard intercepted a speedboat carrying 12 young Hong Kong citizens off Guangdong. The Chinese judges say they were fleeing to Taiwan. With the new security law wanted by Beijing, the fugitives risked going to jail 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.

Tang Kai-yin, the alleged leader of the group, will have to serve three years in prison and pay a fine of 20,000 yuan. The only woman among the fugitives, Quinn Moon, was sentenced to two years and a payment of 15,000 yuan for playing a leading role in organizing the escape. The other eight received a lighter sentence: seven months in prison and a fine of 10 thousand yuan.

The last two suspects, who are minors, have been deported to Hong Kong and will be tried by a local court. They are accused of having "attempted to abscond".

The Yantian Court claims that the verdict was read in a public hearing, in the presence of relatives of the condemned, as well as political representatives from Hong Kong and the motherland, and the media. The statement is not yet confirmed.

Yesterday the families of the detainees reported that they had not been able to attend the trial: an official communication reached them only three days before the detainees appeared before the judges. Foreign journalists and diplomats were also barred from attending the trial.