FRANK FANG | THE EPOCH TIMES
A Chinese court has handed down prison sentences to 10 Hongkongers who were arrested at sea by Chinese coastal guards in August before they could successfully flee to Taiwan.
On Dec. 30, the Yantian District People’s Court in southern China’s Shenzhen city sentenced Tang Kai-yin and Quinn Moon to three years and two years respectively for “organizing others to illegally cross the border.” Tang was also fined $20,000 yuan (about $3,060) and Quinn was fined $15,000 yuan (about $2,300).
Eight others, who were found guilty of “illegally crossing the border,” were each handed seven-month imprisonments and fined $10,000 (about $1,530).
The 10 were among 12 Hongkongers who set sail on a boat from Hong Kong on Aug. 23, allegedly trying to claim political asylum in the self-ruled island of Taiwan. Since the pro-democracy movement escalated in June last year in response to the Chinese Communist Party’s attempt to impose various pieces of controversial legislation, many Hongkongers have fled to other countries and regions to avoid the Hong Kong government’s prosecution over their roles in the movement.
The two Hongkongers who were not sentenced on Wednesday were minors. According to a statement from Yantian police, the local prosecutor’s office decided not to bring a lawsuit against the two and they have been repatriated out of Shenzhen.
At around noon local time, the two minors were picked up by the Hong Kong police force in Tin Shui Wai, a district in the New Territories of Hong Kong that is a short distance from Shenzhen.
Hong Kong police later held a press conference, saying that the two minors, Liu Tsz-man and Hoang Lam-phuc, will first be subjected to a 14-day mandatory quarantine period—a Hong Kong government measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Upon completing their quarantine, the two will be taken to court and may face additional charges of absconding, according to the police. The police said the two already faced charges in Hong Kong for suspected crimes including arson and possession of offensive weapons during protests last year.
Amnesty International issued a statement expressing concerns about how the 10 Hongkongers could be mistreated in Chinese jails.
“These sentences meted out after an unfair trial lay bare the dangers faced by anybody who finds themselves tried under the Chinese criminal system. This group of young Hongkongers will be at risk of torture and other ill-treatment in Chinese jails,” stated Yamini Mishra, Amnesty’s Asia-Pacific regional director.
Mishra also criticized China’s secretive trial on Dec. 28 against the 10 Hongkongers before the court sentenced them on Wednesday.
She explained: “The Chinese authorities have shown the world once again that political activists will not receive a fair trial. Diplomats, journalists, and family members were not allowed to observe the effectively closed-door hearing on Monday.”
On Tuesday, the E.U’s diplomatic agency, the European Union External Action, also criticized the Monday trial, saying the defendants’ rights to a fair trial and due process “have not been respected.”
“The defendants were not permitted to appoint lawyers of their choice, and access to them in custody has been heavily restricted. The trial was not held in open court. Diplomatic representatives were unable to attend the court proceedings and the attendance of relatives of the detained was impeded,” the agency stated.
Hong Kong media Apple Daily, citing an unnamed mainland Chinese lawyer hired by the 12 Hongkongers, reported that the year-long sentence against Tang and Quinn were heavier than expected. The lawyer added that the families had 10 days to appeal the sentences.
This story is developing. Please check back for updates.