Seven prominent democratic figures, including Jimmy Lai, founder of Apple Daily, veteran democrat Martin Lee and barrister Margaret Ng, were convicted of unauthorized assembly on Thursday.
The seven defendants, which include former lawmakers Lee Cheuk-yan, Cyd Ho, Albert Ho and Leung Kwok-hung, had pleaded not guilty to charges of participating in and organizing an unauthorized assembly in relation to a peaceful protest on Aug. 18 in 2019. District Judge Amanda Jane Woodcock ruled they were guilty at the West Kowloon Law Courts Building on Thursday morning.
Two other defendants, former legislators Au Nok-hin and Leung Yiu-chung, had pleaded guilty earlier. The trial is adjourned till 11 a.m., where the judge will hear the plea of the two defendants.
Though Leung and Au were granted bail in this case, they are in custody due to the charge of subversion under the national security law in relation to an unofficial primary election.
Lai, who has been held in custody over fraud and foreign collusion charges for more than three months, waved to families and friends when he arrived at the courthouse. “Peaceful rally is not a crime,” Leung shouted from the dock and displayed the hand gesture for the protest slogan “five demands, not one less.”
Speaking to the press before the trial, Lee Cheuk-yan thanked Hong Kong citizens and his team of lawyers for their support. The trial, which lasted 20 days, reminded people of the historical significance of the rally on Aug. 18, where tens of thousands of protesters filled Victoria Park and major thoroughfares of the Hong Kong island, said Lee. It showed the world Hong Kong people’s determination to fight for democracy.
“One day we will succeed. Before that day arrives, we will light a candle so we can see each other as we walk in the dark tunnel,” he added.
Cyd Ho hopes people will have the courage and dream to continue fighting for freedom. Though institutions and systems are being dismantled and have become fertile ground for corruption, she hopes Hong Kong people will remain in solidarity.
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