Verdict Looms for 9 Senior Hong Kong Democrats in Landmark Unlawful Assembly Case
Voice of America
HONG KONG - A Hong Kong court will hand down verdicts on Thursday for nine prominent democrats on unauthorized 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 unauthorized assembly on Aug. 18, 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, defense 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 unauthorized march as numbers swelled into the hundreds of thousands.
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