Father of democracy’ Martin Lee and media tycoon Jimmy Lai are among seven found guilty over 2019 protest.
A court in Hong Kong has found seven prominent pro-democracy politicians and campaigners guilty of unauthorised assembly over their role in a peaceful protest that was one of the biggest rallies in the Chinese-controlled city in 2019.
Those convicted on Thursday include media tycoon Jimmy Lai, as well as 82-year-old 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”.
The silver-haired Lee and the others sat impassively as district court judge Amanda Woodcock handed down her decision.
“I have found after trial the prosecution able to prove beyond reasonable doubt that all of the defendants together organised what amounted to an unauthorised assembly,” the district court judge noted in the full written judgement.
They were also found guilty of knowingly participating in an unauthorised assembly.
Although Hong Kong’s mini-constitution guarantees the right to peaceful assembly, Woodcock added, “restrictions are imposed, including those for preserving public safety and public order, and protecting the rights of others”.
Sentencing will come later, with some legal experts expecting jail terms of 12-18 months. The maximum possible sentence is five years.
The other defendants included prominent barrister Margaret Ng and veteran democrats Lee Cheuk-yan, Leung Kwok-hung, Albert Ho and Cyd Ho.
Two others, Au Nok-hin and Leung Yiu-chung had earlier pleaded guilty.
‘We will continue the struggle’
A small group of supporters displayed banners outside the West Kowloon court building, including one that read “Oppose Political Persecution”.
“We will continue the struggle,” said Lee, 64, just before entering court. “We believe in the people of Hong Kong, in our brothers and sisters in our struggle, and the victory is ours if the people of Hong Kong are persistent.”