Nine years in prison for first Hong Kong man sentenced under national security law

Tong Ying-kit, a 24-year-old Hong Kong man, was sentenced on Friday, July 30, to nine years in prison following the first judgment handed down for a crime falling under the drastic national security law imposed by Beijing in the ex-British colony to overcome dissent.

Mr. Tong, a waiter by state, was found guilty on Tuesday of terrorism for having attacked the police on a motorbike on 1is July 2020, the day the National Security Law entered into force. He was also charged with secession because he was then waving a flag inscribed with “Liberating Hong Kong: a revolution of our time”, a formula that had established itself as the main slogan of the immense popular mobilization that had taken place in 2019.

The three judges who found him guilty on Tuesday felt that this slogan was “Capable of inciting others to commit an act of secession”, and that it was therefore illegal. Regarding the indictment for terrorism, the magistrates considered that the facts were established because, by rushing on the police, the accused had “Seriously endangered public safety”.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also In Hong Kong, first trial under new national security law

A trial without a jury

The trial, which lasted two weeks, took place without a jury, which constitutes a real break with the Hong Kong legal tradition. And the three magistrates had been chosen by the Hong Kong executive to judge cases relating to national security.

More than sixty people have been charged under the National Security Law, which has emerged as the main tool in China’s crackdown on the pro-democracy movement. Among those prosecuted under this draconian text is notably the media mogul Jimmy Lai, former boss of the pro-democracy tabloid Apple Daily. Most of them have been denied bail and are awaiting trial behind bars.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also In Hong Kong, farewell to the “Apple Daily”, an opposition newspaper closed by the authorities

Since the entry into force of this law, the former British colony – until then renowned for allowing great freedom of thought and business – has abruptly lost many of the attributes that fundamentally differentiated it from the rest of China. All the main leaders of the opposition movement have been arrested, Apple Daily has been closed, the electoral system reformed, gatherings banned, several films or books censored, citizens on file …

The principle “One country, two systems”, which had presided over the handover of 1997, was pulverized with this law which muzzled the city, buried its democratic aspirations and accelerated the phenomenon locally described as the “mainlandization” of Hong Kong.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also Within a year, the national security law gagged Hong Kong, once one of the freest cities in the world

The World with AFP