A pupil regarded as the primary particular person arrested underneath a brand new nationwide safety legislation handed in June has been discovered responsible of desecrating the nationwide flag throughout a avenue conflict with a pro-government group.
Tony Chung Hon-lam, 19, is going through as much as three years in jail after a magistrates courtroom in Hong Kong discovered him responsible of collaborating in an unlawful meeting and desecrating the Chinese language flag. Each expenses associated to a protest that his now-defunct group held in Might final 12 months.
Chung is credited with being the primary political determine arrested in Hong Kong underneath a controversial new nationwide safety legislation. His arrest occurred hours after the legislation got here into power on June 30. Shortly earlier than that, Chung’s political group, Studentlocalism, introduced it was disbanding its operations in Hong Kong, however that its abroad branches in Australia, Taiwan, and the US would proceed their work. He was launched the subsequent day on bail with out expenses.
In October, Chung was arrested once more in a dramatic flip of occasions involving the US consulate normal, which he reportedly needed to go to to use for political asylum. The activist was charged with undermining nationwide unity through his social media posts underneath the brand new nationwide safety legislation and, this time, denied bail.
The Friday courtroom listening to associated to a conflict that Studentlocalism activists had with a rival, pro-government group in Might final 12 months. In the course of the altercation, Chung and two members of the counter-protest tugged between them a Chinese language flag, with the anti-government activist rising victorious and throwing away the torn piece of material.
After reviewing footage of the altercation, the Justice of the Peace refused the claims of his lawyer, who argued that Chung didn’t know he was combating over the nationwide flag and that he was involved the flagpole may very well be used as a weapon. He was discovered responsible of taking part in an unlawful meeting and desecrating a Chinese language state image. His punishment is to be selected December 29, when the courtroom is to convene for sentencing.
Desecrating the nationwide flag is punishable underneath Chinese language legislation by as much as three years in jail. In Hong Kong, violators can be normally sentenced to fines and group service, although jail occasions are usually not exceptional both. The Chinese language flag turned a standard goal for anti-government activists, which is why the nationwide safety legislation centered on any such offence.
In a separate case, Hong Kong media mogul Jimmy Lai was charged on Friday underneath the nationwide safety legislation. The proprietor of the protest-backing Apple Each day tabloid was accused of colluding with overseas powers and is going through as much as a life behind bars.
Lai was arrested in August over the identical accusation, in addition to on suspicion of fraud. He and two different executives of his media group, Subsequent Digital, had been charged within the fraud case earlier this month, after which he was denied bail.
The brand new nationwide safety legislation was launched after months of anti-government avenue protests in Hong Kong. Beijing views the demonstrations as a menace to its sovereignty over the territory, and believes they had been incited by overseas powers. The US and its allies supported the protest motion and known as the brand new laws an assault on the town’s autonomous standing, imposing sanctions in retaliation.
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