Five Hong Kong teenagers convicted in first underage security case

Five Hong Kong teenagers convicted in first underage security case
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HONG KONG, Oct 8 (Reuters) – Five teenagers from a Hong Kong pro-independence group were sentenced by a judge on Saturday to up to three years in a correctional facility for conducting an ‘armed revolution’ in a national security case.

The five, some of whom were minors at the time of the alleged crime, had pleaded guilty to “inciting others to undermine state power” through a group called the Returning Valiant.

Judgments for two more, aged 21 and 26, will be served at a later date.

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Judge Kwok Wai-kin detailed how the defendants advocated a “bloody revolution” to overthrow the Chinese state at street stalls and on Instagram and Facebook following the passage of a sweeping Chinese-imposed national security law.

Kwok called the alleged incitement a felony, but still took her “age and immaturity” into account when he sentenced her to a training center or juvenile detention center rather than prison.

The length of stay, which is limited to three years, is left to the penal authorities.

“Even if only one person is instigated by them, Hong Kong’s social stability and the safety of residents may be seriously threatened,” Kwok added.

“There is no evidence to directly prove that anyone was instigated by the defendants to undermine state power, but the risk is real.”

Four of the five have been in custody for more than a year, and only one has been released on bail.

Prosecutors Anthony Chau and Stella Lo previously told the court that the group’s pamphlets cited the French and Ukrainian revolutions as examples of successful armed rebellions, quoting Mao Zedong that a revolution is “an act of violence by one class overthrowing another.” “.

Prosecutors detailed how police confiscated flags, leaflets, airguns, ammunition and extendable batons from an industrial building.

At least 22 people linked to the group have been arrested over the past year. Several face separate charges of conspiracy to commit terrorism under the Security Act.

Authorities in Beijing and Hong Kong say the security law has restored stability to the global financial hub following mass anti-government and pro-democracy protests in 2019.

However, human rights experts at the United Nations Human Rights Committee called for the law to be repealed in a July report amid fears it is being used to suppress fundamental freedoms.

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Adaptation by Clarence Fernandez

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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