HONG KONG: A Hong Kong court on Tuesday found nine leaders of the 2014 pro-democracy ‘Occupy’ movement guilty of public nuisance during the mass protests, in a landmark verdict as freedoms in the city ruled by mainland China come under strain.
Scores of supporters applauded the defendants, who included a law professor, two legislators and former student activists, after a trial that critics said highlighted the decline of political freedoms in the former British colony.
Law professor Benny Tai, 54, retired sociologist Chan Kin-man, 60, and retired pastor Chu Yiu-ming, 75 were found guilty of conspiracy to commit public nuisance over their leading role in planning and mobilising supporters during the 79-day protest.
The trio had pleaded not guilty to all charges, which carry a maximum jail term of seven years each. The judge did not immediately hand down sentences, and the defendants have not said if they planned to appeal.
“I am determined to fight for Hong Kong with one last effort, and to walk with Hong Kong people one step further,” Chu said in a passionate final speech in court, despite being in poor health.
“We have no regrets … we have not given up,” he said, moving some witnesses to tears, and spurring sustained applause from supporters.
Outside the court, some punched their fists in the air and shouted, “We want universal suffrage.” Others sobbed as supporters called them “fearless and invincible”.