Hong Kong: Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai and nine other pro-democracy activists are expected to be sentenced on Friday after they were found guilty of participating in unauthorised assemblies during anti-government protests in 2019.
It would be the first time that Lai, one of Hong Kong’s most prominent democratic activists, who has been in jail since December after being denied bail in a separate national security trial, will receive a sentence.
About 100 people queued outside the court early on Friday to get a seat for the hearing. “It was already very difficult to fight for democracy and freedom in the past. With the national security law, it’s even harder,” 19-year-old student Yan said while waiting.
We need to believe in our faith and wait for the time to come again, said the student, who declined to give his full name due to the sensitivity of the subject. Lai was found guilty in two separate trials earlier in April for illegal assemblies on Aug. 18 and Aug. 31 2019, respectively. The maximum possible punishment is five years in prison.
His repeated arrests have drawn criticism from Western governments and international rights groups, who raised concerns over waning freedoms in the global financial hub, including freedom of speech and assembly.
In the 18 August case, District Court Judge Amanda Woodcock found him guilty together with Martin Lee, who helped launch the city’s largest opposition Democratic Party in the 1990s and is often called the former British colony’s father of democracy.
As he entered the court on Friday, Lee said: I feel completely relaxed, I’m ready to face my sentence. The other defendants also found guilty, included prominent barrister Margaret Ng and veteran democrats Lee Cheuk-yan, Albert Ho, Leung Kwok-hung, Cyd Ho, Au Nok-hin and Leung Yiu-chung. The latter two had pleaded guilty.