Hong Kong’s 1st convict under controversial law sentenced to 9 years in jail

by Sami Burgaz
High Court in its verdict found 24-year-old Tong guilty of ‘inciting secession and terrorism’ under national security law

ANKARA (AA) – A Hong Kong court sentenced a former restaurant waiter to nine years in prison on Friday, three days after ruling him guilty of “inciting secession and terrorism” under the controversial national security law (NSL).

Tong Ying-kit, 24, is sentenced to nearly nine years imprisonment by the High Court, said a statement by the Hong Kong’s Justice Department.

Tong was sentenced to six years and six months in prison for “inciting secession” and eight years in prison for “terrorist activities,” according to the statement. However, at least two years and six months of each of the two imprisonment terms will be served consecutively, for a total of nine years in prison.

Referring to Article 21 of the NSL, the court stated in the sentence order that the security law “sets up a tiered system for sentencing offenders of incitement to secession.”

“If the circumstances of the offense committed by a person are of a serious nature, the person shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of not less than five years but not more than ten years; if the circumstances of the offense committed by a person are of a minor nature, the person shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of not more than five years, short-term detention or restriction,” the NSL law reads.

Last Tuesday, more than a year after it came into effect, Hong Kong High Court had announced the first conviction, Tong’s, under the controversial NSL.

He is the first person to be formally convicted of such charges since the controversial law was adopted by China in the semi-autonomous region on July 1 last year, the same day Tong was arrested.

He was accused of driving his motorbike into a group of police officers in Wan Chai area of the region while flying a black and white protest flag that read “Liberate Hong Kong, Revolution of our Times.”

“Such display of the words was capable of inciting others to commit secession,” the judges had observed.

On the first anniversary of the implementation of the security legislation, Amnesty International late last month had said Beijing’s year-old NSL has “created a human rights emergency” in the territory.

After massive anti-government protests in 2019, China imposed the law on July 1, 2020, followed by electoral reforms this spring. The new law drew sharp criticism from Western capitals.​​​​​​​

The law criminalizes anti-China sentiments in the region, which continued to serve as a vibrant economic hub after the UK handed it over to Beijing in 1997 under a vow that it would enjoy a “high level of autonomy” for 50 years.


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