Verdicts may be handed down for nine prominent democrats on unauthorised assembly charges, including 82-year-old barrister Martin Lee and media tycoon Jimmy Lai, as part of an intensifying crackdown by China on its freest city. 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,” is accused of taking part in an unauthorised assembly on AUG 18 in 2019 – and could be jailed for 12-18 months, according to some legal experts.
Lee, Lai, and five other defendants including prominent barrister Margaret Ng and veteran democrats Lee Cheuk-yan, Leung-kwok-hung, Albert Ho, Cyd Ho, had pleaded not guilty. During the trial, defence lawyers argued that freedom of assembly is a constitutional right in Hong Kong, and noted that police had approved the peaceful demonstration in the city’s downtown Victoria Park, which grew into an unauthorised march as numbers swelled into the hundreds of thousands.
Only two Democrats, Au Nok-hin and Leung Yiu-chung, pleaded guilty. A presser by pro-democracy groups has been held outside
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