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1st person convicted under HK National Security Law

By GANG WEN | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2021-07-28 07:16
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File photo taken on June 29, 2020 shows a billboard promoting the Law of the People's Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) in the Central district in Hong Kong. [Photo/Xinhua]

In the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region's first conviction under the National Security Law for Hong Kong, the city's High Court found on Tuesday that a motorcyclist who rammed police officers was guilty of terrorism and incitement to secession.

Leon Tong Ying-kit, the first to be charged under the law in Hong Kong, faces a maximum penalty of life in prison.

A three-judge High Court panel designated for national security cases ruled that during a protest last year, Tong had intentionally incited others to separate the Hong Kong SAR from China and "seriously jeopardized public safety".

During a protest in Wan Chai district on July 1 last year, Tong, now 24, struck three police officers with his motorcycle. He also had with him a flag bearing a protest slogan that was a signature rallying call during the 2019 social unrest.

The former waiter was arrested and charged with terrorism, incitement to secession and dangerous driving causing grievous bodily harm. His case was first heard on June 23 in a trial that lasted for 16 days.

According to Articles 24 and 21 of the law, the terrorism offense can lead to a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, while conviction on the charge of incitement to secession can bring up to 10 years in prison.

The judges held that the slogan carried secessionist meaning and the display of the words was capable of inciting others to commit secession.

Understanding the meaning, the defendant intended to communicate it to others and incite them to commit secession, the court said, adding that the slogan reflected a political agenda advocated by the defendant at the time.

The court also found that the defendant's crashing into the police officers was a deliberate challenge mounted against the police, "a symbol of Hong Kong's law and order".

The act involved "serious violence" against others that caused "grave harm" to society and "seriously jeopardized public safety". It was carried out with a view to "intimidating the public in order to pursue a political agenda", the court found.

Evidence showed that despite repeated warnings, including the firing of pepper balls, the defendant drove through three police cordons and rammed into police officers at the fourth cordon. He accelerated the motorcycle either before or after arriving at each police line, according to the court.

Three officers were knocked to the ground, suffering multiple injuries. One whose left wrist was seriously injured has not yet recovered, and even twisting open a water bottle is difficult.

The court ruled that every element of the offenses in the incitement and terrorism counts had been proved, so there was no need to deal with the charge of dangerous driving. The court will hear the defendant's mitigation plea on Thursday morning.

As of Monday, police had arrested 138 people on suspicion of endangering national security, and 76 of them were later charged. Three companies were also charged under the National Security Law, the Security Bureau said in reply to a query from China Daily on Monday.

In a social media post on Tuesday, lawmaker and solicitor Holden Chow Ho-ding said that the first conviction in a National Security Law case sent a message to Hong Kong society that the law is of great significance in deterring acts endangering national security and safeguarding public order.

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