© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Media mogul Jimmy Lai, founder of Apple Daily, leaves the last Court of Appeals with a Hong Kong prison truck
By Jessie Pang
HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hong Kong media mogul Jimmy Lai and nine other pro-democracy activists are expected to be sentenced on Friday after they were found guilty of joining illegal groups in Anti-government protests in 2019.
This will be the first time Lai, one of Hong Kong’s most famous democracy activists, who has been in prison since December after being denied bail in a separate national security trial, will receive judgment.
About 100 people lined up outside the court early on Friday to get a seat for the hearing.
Lai was found guilty in two separate trials in April for illegally gathering on August 18 and August 31, respectively. The maximum penalty is likely to be five years in prison.
His constant arrests have drawn criticism from Western governments and international rights groups, who have raised concerns about the decline of freedoms in the global financial center, including rights. freedom of speech and assembly.
In the August 18 case, the Amanda Woodcock District Court judge charged him with Martin Lee, who helped found the city’s largest opposition Democratic Party in the 1990s and is often referred to as ” father of former British colonial “democracy.
Other defendants, also found guilty, included prominent lawyer Margaret Ng and veteran democrats Lee Cheuk-yan, Albert Ho, Leung Kwok-hung, Cyd Ho, Au Nok-hin, and Leung Yiu- general. The two later pleaded guilty.
In the second trial, the same judge concluded Lai and Lee Cheuk-yan commit crimes together with Yeung Sum. The August 31 clashes were one of the worst in Hong Kong, with police firing tear gas and tornado at pro-democracy protesters who were bombarders.
All three have pleaded guilty.
The pro-democracy rallies in 2019 were driven by Beijing’s tightening of the wide-ranging freedoms promised Hong Kong after it returned to Chinese rule in 1997, and pushed the semi-autonomous city into its biggest crisis since the handover.
Since then, Beijing has strengthened its authoritarian rule over Hong Kong by imposing extensive national security laws, punishing anything it deems separatist, subversive, terrorist or dissident. companion with foreign forces with a life sentence.
Proponents of the law say it has restored stability.
Lai, the founder of Apple’s daily tabloid (NASDAQ :), is a frequent visitor to Washington, meeting with officials like former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, to advocate for Hong Kong’s democracy, causing the North to Sutras ascribed to him as “traitor”.
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