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12 Activists Receive Up to 7-Year Sentences for Hong Kong Legislative Council Protest

A Hong Kong court sentenced 12 people who stormed the Hong Kong Legislative Council building during the “July 1 Clash” during the Hong Kong anti-extradition protest in 2019 for rioting. The sentences ranged from more than four years to nearly seven years.

On July 1, 2019, hundreds of demonstrators broke into the Hong Kong Legislative Council building. Some spray-painted slogans on the walls, blackened the Hong Kong regional emblem to display the British Hong Kong flag, and damaged many facilities. They occupied the Legislative Council for up to three hours. , until they were dispersed by riot police. At that time, Hong Kong’s public anger was rising, mainly protesting against the Fugitive Offenders Amendment Bill that would allow criminal suspects in Hong Kong to be extradited to mainland China for trial. Afterward, 14 people were charged with rioting and other crimes.

The case was decided at the West Kowloon Court in Hong Kong on Saturday. The 45-year-old Hong Kong artist Wang Zongyao pleaded not guilty and was sentenced to 6 years and 2 months in prison. Hong Kong local Democrats Liu Yongkuang and Chow Jiacheng, who had pleaded guilty, were sentenced to 54 months and 20 days and 61 months and 15 days, respectively.

“No matter what punishment the court imposes on me, I will continue to move forward and turn my fears into a force for change, just like the day I walked into the Legislative Council,” Chow told the court before sentencing. He said their actions were to defend basic human rights that are threatened by the authorities.

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Liu Yongkuang said that he rushed to the scene out of fear that the police might carry out a bloody crackdown. Liu Yongkuang later left Hong Kong and returned, despite the risk of prosecution. Liu Yongkuang said, “I don’t want the public to think that everyone in this movement only cares about their own safety.” He also said, “Knowing that a crime will be committed, I would rather go to jail than see anyone bleed.”

Actor Wang Zongyao is above In a plea letter submitted to the court last month, he wrote that his life “came to a standstill” after his arrest on September 30, 2019, and he was forced to leave the acting career he had been involved in since he was 12 years old. He said that no matter how heavy the final sentence was, “I will still help people in need in society with the most sincere heart.”

27-year-old Sun Xiaolan, president of the Student Union of the University of Hong Kong, pleaded guilty to rioting before trial and was sentenced to 4 years and 9 months in prison.

As she was taken away from the bed, relatives and supporters cried, “Take care!” “Conference Hall Area” was found guilty and fined HK$1,500 (US$190) and HK$1,000, respectively.

Li Zhihao, the interim judge of the Hong Kong District Court who made the judgment, described the incident as a “serious” blow to the rule of law in Hong Kong.

Li Zhihao said that the riot involved in this case occurred in the Legislative Council, which has “unique constitutional status and symbolic significance.” More than a thousand demonstrators brazenly surrounded the Legislative Council when the incident occurred. “The behavior was a challenge and an insult to the SAR government. Intention to weaken or overthrow Hong Kong’s constitution is an attack on the rule of law.”

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The maximum penalty for the crime of riot in the Hong Kong District Court is seven years imprisonment. Li Zhihao said that this riot case was the most serious situation, and even a sentence of 7 years in prison was not an exaggeration.

According to police data, more than 10,200 people have been arrested so far in connection with the anti-extradition movement in 2019, of which 2,937 have been charged with crimes such as rioting, illegal assembly, and criminal damage.

According to “The Witness,” a Hong Kong media outlet specializing in legal news, more than 870 people were charged with rioting.

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