HONG KONG — The primary individual to be tried beneath Hong Kong’s sweeping nationwide safety regulation was discovered responsible of secessionism and terrorism on Tuesday.
The Hong Kong Excessive Courtroom handed down the decision within the case of Tong Ying-kit, age 24. He’s accused of driving his bike into a bunch of law enforcement officials whereas carrying a flag bearing the protest slogan “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our instances” on July 1 final 12 months, a day after Beijing imposed sweeping nationwide safety laws on Hong Kong following months of anti-government protests in 2019.
The decision was carefully watched for indications as to how comparable circumstances will probably be handled in future. Greater than 100 folks have been arrested beneath the safety laws.
Tong pleaded not responsible to costs of inciting secession, terrorism and another cost of harmful driving.
He faces a most sentence of life imprisonment, and his legal professionals are anticipated to argue for a lighter punishment at his sentencing listening to Thursday.
The trial, which ended July 20, was held within the Excessive Courtroom with no jury, beneath guidelines permitting this exception from Hong Kong’s frequent regulation system if state secrets and techniques must be protected, international forces are concerned or if the private security of jurors must be protected. Trials are presided over by judges handpicked by Hong Kong chief Carrie Lam.
Tong’s protection lawyer has stated it’s unattainable to show that Tong was inciting secession merely by having used the slogan.
The protection additionally stated there is no such thing as a proof that Tong dedicated the act intentionally, that he prevented crashing into officers and that his actions couldn’t be thought of terrorism since there was no severe violence or hurt to society.
Whereas Hong Kong has its personal Legislative Council, Beijing’s ceremonial legislature imposed the nationwide safety regulation on the semiautonomous metropolis after it decided the physique was unable to cross the laws itself due to political opposition.
That adopted the more and more violent 2019 protests towards China’s rising affect over the town’s affairs, regardless of commitments to permit the town to take care of its personal system for 50 years after the 1997 handover from British rule.
China’s legislature has mandated adjustments to the make-up of the town’s Legislative Council to make sure an awesome pro-Beijing majority, and required that solely these it determines “patriots” can maintain workplace.
Authorities have banned the protest slogan “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our instances,” stating that it has secessionist connotations. Library books and college curricula have additionally been investigated for alleged secessionist messages.
Hong Kong’s final remaining pro-democracy newspaper, Apple Each day, was compelled out of enterprise final month and a court docket denied bail for 4 editors and journalists held on costs of endangering nationwide safety as a part of the widening crackdown.
Beijing has dismissed criticisms, saying it’s merely restoring order to the town and instituting they identical kind of nationwide safety protections present in different international locations.