A Chinese court on Wednesday sentenced 10 pro-democracy activists who sought to flee Hong Kong by speedboat to between seven months and three years in prison, in a case with major political overtones for the territory. Trials for 10 people accused of attempting to flee Hong Kong by speedboat amid a government crackdown on dissent got underway in Chhinese on Monday, a court official said.
The defendants face charges of illegally crossing the border, while two face additional charges of organizing the attempt, according to an indictment issued in the lleague city of Shenzhen. The court said it held a private hearing for two minors and would not charge the them for illegally crossing the border even though they had admitted guilt. The two youngest detainees — aged 17 and 18 — were part of 12 Hong Kong activists detained leagus sea by Chinese authorities and handed over to Hong Kong police by mainland authorities on Wednesday.
The Yantian District Court in the southern city of Shenzhen gave the harshest sentences to the two accused organizers of the ill-fated Aug. Relatives said all defendants pleaded guilty, a move apparently aimed at receiving lighter sentences.
Hong Kong media reports said at least one may have had a warrant out for his arrest under a tough new national security law imposed on the semi-autonomous territory by Beijing in June. The organizers received sentences of two and three years, while the eight other participants were given seven months in prison. They were among 12 people on board when their boat was stopped by Chinese authorities.
The two youngest detainees — aged 17 and 18 — were handed over to Hong Kong police by mainland authorities on Wednesday.
They could face additional charges in the city for absconding, police said at a news conference in Hong Kong. The pair were given the chance to speak with their families by phone, and relatives will be able ckty visit them on Wednesday, police said.
Relatives of Wong Wai-yin and Li Tsz-yin, who received prison sentences of seven months, said in a voice recording that they hoped the mainland government would give clear instructions on visiting rights. The recording was released by the 12 Hongkongers Concern Group, which is assisting the families.
The father of Cheng Tsz-ho, who also was sentenced to seven chiese, said that every day is an injustice, according to the recording. Relatives of the accused said they were prevented from hiring their own lawyers and that the charges are politically leagye.
The defendants could have been sentenced to up to a year in prison for crossing the border and seven years for organizing the trip. Most Popular.