11/03/2021, 13.34
HONG KONG – CHINA
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Former student leader Tony Chung to be sentenced under security law

Chung pleaded guilty to secession and money laundering, but rejected the charge of sedition. He is also said he is not ashamed of what he did as the leader of Studentlocalism. The sentence against delivery man Ma Chun-man will be read on 11 November.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – Former student leader Tony Chung pleaded guilty today to “secession" and to one count of money laundering.

The first charge falls under the draconian national security law imposed by Beijing, which can entail a life sentence.

However, the 20-year-old activist risks no more than seven years in prison, the maximum the District Court can impose.

The case was adjourned until 23 November for a mitigation plea and sentencing. In the plea agreement Chung rejected the charge of conspiring to publish “seditious material” and a second count of money laundering.

The local prosecutor said that admission of guilt could lead to these two counts being dropped.

The police arrested Chung in October 2020 at a cafe near the US consulate, suspecting that he wanted to seek asylum.

Chung led Studentlocalism, a pro-Hong Kong independence student group until its dissolution in June 2020, shortly before the security law was adopted.

Prosecutors claim Chung used the group to post seditious messages on social media. In 2019 he took part in pro-democracy protests with the aim of promoting secession.

The activist is also accused of using a Paypal account to raise funds for illegal purposes. In his guilty plea, Chung said he "feels no shame in my heart" for what he did.

As RTHK reports, Judge Stanley Chan warned Chung not to make political speeches during the hearing.

According to the Hong Kong Free Press, Judge Chan also ordered video checks to verify that the audience present did not violate court rules with cries of support for the accused. Turning to Chung, a woman yelled “Hang in there!”

Chung is the third person accused to plead guilty to offences against national security. Before him, activist Andy Li and legal assistant Chan Tsz-wah did the same.

Recently, well-known pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong said that he learnt from prison sources that the former Studentlocalism coordinator was subjected to corporal punishment during his imprisonment, an accusation that prison authorities deny.

Wong himself has been in jail for some time, awaiting trial on national security charges. More than 60 people, including prominent members of the pro-democracy movement, are in the same situation.

In late July, Tong Ying-kit became the first citizen of the former British colony to be sentenced under the security law. The 24-year-old waiter was given nine years for inciting secession and terrorism.

Ma Chun-man, a delivery driver accused of shouting slogans calling for Hong Kong’s independence, will be sentenced on 11 November.

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