07/30/2021, 12.57
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Court hands down first conviction in national security case

Judges impose a nine-year sentence on Tong Ying-kit, 24, for inciting secession and terrorism. He was arrested for waving a pro-independence flag. His lawyers plan to appeal the conviction. More than a hundred people have been arrested in connection with alleged violations of national security legislation. More than 60 are awaiting trial.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – Hong Kong’s High Court on Tuesday sentenced Tong Ying-kit to nine years in prison, making him the first resident of the former British colony to be convicted under the national security law imposed by Beijing to silence the city’s pro-democracy movement.

For the Court, the 24-year-old former waiter is guilty of inciting the population to secession and terrorism.

On 1 July 2020, a few hours after the adoption of the draconian security measure, police stopped him as he rode a motorcycle waving a flag that read “Liberate Hong Kong, Revolution of Our Times”.

Tong was also convicted of driving into some agents with his vehicle. His lawyers have already announced that they will appeal.

A three-judge panel picked by the local government to handle national security cases presided over the 15-day trial.

Breaking with Hong Kong’s liberal tradition, the proceedings took place without a jury. For the past 176 years, the most serious crimes were tried by juries under the city’s Common Law system.

On the website of the city judiciary, the participation of jurors is described as one of its “most important features”.

Contrary to what the prosecution requested, the judges did not apply the laws of the People's Republic of China in imposing the sentence, limiting themselves to following the legislation in force in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

So far, more than a hundred people have been arrested for national security offences. More than 60 are awaiting trial, including pro-democracy leaders like Jimmy Lai, Benny Tai and Joshua Wong, who have been in prison for months.

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