In Hong Kong, “the nine of August 18” sentenced to prison terms

A hundred Hong Kong people waited in front of the West Kowloon court, some since the day before, with the hope of attending the verdict of the “nine of August 18”, which was delivered at the end of the day, Friday April 16. Those who could not enter had remained outside in support of the defendants, figures known and widely respected by a large part of Hong Kong people, and they could not contain their anger when only four of the nine emerged, admittedly. sentenced, but suspended.

The other defendants were sent or returned to detention with sentences ranging from eight to eighteen months in prison for their involvement in the huge parade of August 18, 2019, in which more than a million and a half people had also participated. , under torrential rain. Three of the defendants also had to answer for their participation in another illegal gathering on August 31, 2019.

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Lawyers for the defendants had suggested fines rather than prison terms, stressing the defendants’ often remarkable commitment to community service and stressing that the August 18 demonstration had remained peaceful, to the point that the police had absolutely not intervened. Arguments only partially accepted by British judge Amanda Woodcock, 54, who has always practiced in Hong Kong. Human rights lawyer Albert Ho, sentenced to one year in prison, ruled the sentences “Of inconceivable severity”. “The judge’s attitude shocks and disappoints me”, he added.

The most heavily punished (eighteen months in prison) is the former LSD (Social Democratic League) MP Leung Kwok-hung, 65. Often dressed in a Che Guevara effigy t-shirt, he is nicknamed “Long Hair” because of his impressive mop, as legendary as his unwavering loyalty to the democratic struggle.

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Jimmy Lai, the famous opposition press mogul, was sentenced to fourteen months in prison. Although he has already been in pre-trial detention for more than four months (accused of conspiracy to subversion, under the new draconian national security law which came into force in Hong Kong in June), this sentence will cause him to lose “privileges” defendants, in particular daily visiting rights, which will become monthly.

Jimmy Lai has also just been indicted for “Conspiracy”, also under the national security law, with his former right-hand man, the American Mark Simon, and the young activist Andy Li, who had tried to flee to Taiwan by sea in August 2020. This new file was adjourned to June 15. Because of his very strong influence, due to his charisma relayed by his powerful press group, Jimmy Lai is clearly one of the targets that the Chinese Communist Party wishes to silence and neutralize as a priority. His open appeals for help to the United States only made his case worse in Beijing’s eyes.

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