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Five of nine activists jailed for up to 18 months

2021-04-16 HKT 16:37
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  • Five of nine activists jailed for up to 18 months
Five of the most well known pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong were jailed for up to 18 months on Friday and four were given suspended sentences, for their involvement in one of the largest 2019 protests over the government's widely despised extradition bill.

Media tycoon Jimmy Lai and former lawmakers Martin Lee, Margaret Ng, Cyd Ho, Albert Ho, Lee Cheuk-yan and Leung Kwok-hung were earlier found guilty of organising and taking part in an unauthorised assembly, while Au Nok-hin and Leung Yiu-chung had pleaded guilty.

Leung Kwok-hung received the longest prison term at 18 months, while Lai and Lee Cheuk-yan were jailed for a year.

Au received a 10-month prison term, and Cyd Ho eight months.

Martin Lee, Ng, Albert Ho and Leung Yiu-chung received suspended prison terms.

Hundreds of thousands of people had demonstrated peacefully on Hong Kong Island on August 18, 2019, including at a police sanctioned rally at Victoria Park.

But the massive crowd later braved torrential rain to march to Central, without the force's permission.

District Court judge Amanda Woodcock said deterrent sentences were needed because the defendants had “deliberately defied the law,” and their acts were a “direct challenge to the police and law and order.”

She added that the unauthorised assembly was so massive in scale that it had caused citywide traffic disruption.

The judge went on to say that although the procession was peaceful, she had to take into account the social unrest of 2019, which she described as “relentless and violent.”

She said with a large crowd gathered and people’s emotions running high, the march could have ended in violence.

“The defendants went on to organise the protest. They were well-known figures and as heads of the procession, were guaranteed to draw a crowd,” the judge said.

“These defendants made a conscious decision to break the law during that volatile time,” she continued. “It was premeditated to bypass the police ban.”

However, the judge decided to take into account the ages and distinguished public service records of the defendants.

Lai and Lee Cheuk-yan were also given jail terms of eight months and six months respectively for taking part in an unauthorised march from Southorn Playground in Wan Chai to police headquarters, on August 31, 2019.

But only two months of their sentences will be served consecutively, giving them both 14 months in prison in total.

Another defendant in the case former Democratic Party lawmaker Yeung Sum, was given a suspended jail term, given his old age and public service record.

Before sentencing, Lai, Leung Kwok-hung and Au were already in custody in relation to other cases.

Last updated: 2021-04-16 HKT 17:13